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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. Oh, yum, Nam Ka Tod is one of my favorites there! I believe the leaves are Miner's Lettuce, aka Montia perfoliata. They grow wild all over the place, and are edible. Miner's Lettuce If not Miner's Lettuce, they could also be the edible leaves of the nasturtium. Great work on your report: I especially love the shot of Chicago.
  2. Hey, dude, I didn't even see your post when I made mine. Sometimes that happens. I didn't even read about the "lies," because for me, the big lie was that brining does anything to a turkey I'd want to taste. I don't know if I'm a heretic or a lemming.
  3. Hey, Nick and ChefG, do you want to fly me in, too? The more the merrier! I could bring an Etch-a-Sketch instead of my digital cameras and do SUCH a good report. (wink, wink, I do understand you both have an actual sense of humor.) No, really. Seriously. heh
  4. tanabutler

    Turkey Brining

    I am solidly in the NO BRINE category. I did it once, UGH. 1. A post from eG: If you can follow a recipe, I've made Roast Turkey with Herb Rub and Shiitake Gravy for ten years now. I'd never made a turkey in my life before, and this recipe just knocks it out of the park. Definitely get a meat thermometer. I make the spice blend in my coffee grinder (I don't do coffee), and keep some on hand for roasting chickens year-round. I promise you a spectacular bird if you make it. 83 rave reviews, 97% would make it again, and many of those who reviewed say, as I do, I'll never do turkey any other way. I am in 100% agreement with Harold McGee on brining: I hate it. You lose the underlying sweetness of the turkey meat. If the only excuse to brine is so the bird's not dried out, that's a bad reason, in my book. I've never had a tough/dried turkey, and the year I brined, I just thought it ruined the recipe. Do your "mise en place," and be ready to bask in utter adulation when you serve this turkey. Can you handle it? smile.gif Good luck! ============ 2. A post I made on another food board: I just saw Harold McGee at an appearance at a local bookstore. Someone asked him about brining, and he asked for a show of hands of those who'd done so and liked the results. Nearly every hand in the packed room shot up. Then he asked for a show of hands of those who'd tried it and did not like the results. I saw only two hands straight in the air: his and mine. He then spent ten minutes explaining why brining is not good, the gist of which is that the salt water leaches actual flavors out of the meat, replacing it with salt and water. It's not a juicy bird you're getting, it's a wet one. (He posited that one of the reasons people brine is because they're using inferior meat, but that certainly isn't the case for most of the foodies I know.) He also said there are essential difficulties in roasting turkey, as the breast and legs want to cook at different rates, so he resigns himself to dried-out breasts that were "made for mayonnaise." He also mentions something is true but which I've never seen addressed anywhere: the drippings in the pan are pretty much useless for gravy, as they're far too salty. I brined one year (following the recipe from the SF Chronicle, which my circle all used and swore was the Second Coming) and hated it. I've never had a dried out bird: for every year since 1994, I've made the recipe for Roast Turkey with Herb Rub and Shiitake Gravy from Bon Appétit. If you've never brined, and feel like you're missing something, go ahead and give it a try. But when people talk about it in worshipful tones, I've never gotten it. It replaces the sweetness of the turkey flesh (which contrasts perfectly with the savory, crispy skin) with salty meat. ================ Me no brine no mo.
  5. a bit more to read about .. discussion on Bourbon Reds ← Before you give much credence to the cited aticle, this guy believes in brining turkey and has a problem with believing that a person would prefer an un-brined bird. There are also several outrageous lies in the article. ← Brining a heritage bird? Blegh. He deserves what he gets.
  6. tanabutler


    Nice photo, lovely review, and very interesting context for his visit. I cannot wait to get there!
  7. Your source for all things organic: LocalHarvest.org. </end broken record mode for today>
  8. tanabutler

    Roasting Turkey

    I use Amontillado for its nutty taste--not cooking sherry! Do not use vermouth or cream sherry: you want dry. Trader Joe's has decent Amontillado, and you can pick up a bottle of Hartley & Gibson for about $8, I bet.
  9. tanabutler

    Roasting Turkey

    I actually don't use that recipe but make one up on my own, with shiitakes and pine nuts and rosemary and stuff. Although Dan Barber's recipe for mushroom-hazelnut stuffing sounds fabulous: scroll down. (Technically, it's "dressing," since he doesn't put it in the bird.) One other word about the turkey recipe. I make soup with the carcass. I use no celery, and I use no rice, but I throw in oranges (whole), more shiitakes, and some of the dressing with pine nuts, etc. It is the best turkey soup in the world, and my husband's favorite thing I make all year, I think. (The trick with the oranges is to let them cook, and then juice them at the end. The oils from the rind infuse the soup with incredible flavor. It is thus very important to use organic oranges.)
  10. LAX is well within shooting distance of both Santa Monica and Venice. Border Grill in Santa Monica would be a good bet, since they're open at 11:30 every day, and serve through the dinner hour. I ate at their place in Las Vegas and thought it excellent. There are fancier places, but since you're going at an off hour, I think you'd be happy there.
  11. http://onlysf.sfvisitor.org/ November 20, 2004-March 19, 2005 (Selected dates) Crab Feast On The Bay Red and White Fleet, Pier 43 1/2, Fisherman's Wharf , Information: 800-229-2784 Make the most of crab season in San Francisco with an excursion on the bay and a feast of fresh crab. Red and White fleet cruises take feasters around the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Fort Mason and more while Dungeness crab and San Francisco sourdough bread is on the menu. Crab feast cruises are November 20, December 18, January 15, February 19, and March 19. All cruises leave the dock at 12 noon. Reservations recommended. February 1-28, 2005 3rd Annual San Francisco Crab Festival The 3rd Annual San Francisco Crab Festival celebrates this most San Franciscan of foods. Come to Fisherman's Wharf for a variety of activities and events designed to delight the senses, including the Fun at the Cannery festival, a Fisherman's Wharf walk and plenty of fresh crab to eat. The Crab & Wine Marketplace The climax to the annual month-long festival in celebration of San Francisco’s Dungeness crab is the final weekend at the Crab & Wine Marketplace, featuring food, wine and entertainment. Highlights include gourmet crab specialities, fresh seafood and wine tastings, chef demonstrations, live music and performances, arts and crafts, and a children’s crab-themed recreation area. Venue: Fort Mason Center; Date: Crab Festival: 1-28 February 2005; Crab & Wine Marketplace: 26-27 February 2005; Time: 11am to 7pm; Website: www.sfvisitor.org/crab/ (Note: the last URL is not yet updated for 2005.)
  12. tanabutler

    Roasting Turkey

    Potential is looking pretty delicious; however, no stuffing (or, really, 'other dishes') are suggested to go w/ the big bird. Scrolled thru stuffing selections on epicurious but they did not strike me as within the same tune as bird recette... How have you accompanied this treat...? Thanks... ← I still have the original magazine. Their menu suggests: NEW ENGLAND SAUSAGE, APPLE AND DRIED CRANBERRY STUFFING (They are missing a recipe at Epicurious for whipped carrots and parsnips.) POTATO AND CELERY ROOT GRATIN WITH FONTINA CHEESE They are also missing the recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Raspberry Vinegar, darn it! I have made green beans to accompany (there are some good green bean recipes at Epicurious; I narrowed the focus to "Thanksgiving," though I don't suppose that's necessary). Green beans with lemon and rosemary? Green beans with sautéed persimmons and chives? I also always make Spicy Roasted Herb Nuts. Hope that helps. I hope you try this turkey; it's so fabulous. Let me know if you're dying for either, and I'll type up the recipe for the cranberry sauce and/or the whipped carrots and parsnips.
  13. How relieved I am to learn that you didn't mean KFC. Tasty as always, and thanks again.
  14. tanabutler

    Dinner! 2004

    I love the palm garnish in the wine. So much more original than the paper umbrellas. (You better be laughing, Susan.)
  15. tanabutler

    green veggies

    I wish I had ten thousand dollars for everyone who said they could make a brussels sprout palatable. They are, for me, the liver of the vegetable world. EDIT: I would eat them if Chef David Kinch cooked them. He got me to try foie gras twice on Friday night, and it was fantastic both times.
  16. My foodie friend in SF says that "Crustacean, on Polk and California, is supposed to be legendary for their whole crab preparation." He also says Harbor Village used to be great, but they've gone way downhill. He went there a few years ago and was very disappointed. (I'm always suspect of undated glowing reviews posted on restaurant sites.)
  17. Not exactly a competition, but once at the drive-in, they had a drawing for a grill and a bunch of steaks. My sister, a friend, and I all filled out bunches and bunches of forms with the name "Beulah Fay Hoptroff" (the name of a much-feared math teacher at our junior high school). We won! Robyn got the steaks, and my mom got the grill.
  18. On Friday night, we were finally able to go to Manresa for the chef's tasting. We were six: Bob, his daughter (the mother of little Logan, the baby whose face currently appears under my name, to the left), Charley (dear friend who's eaten at Manresa before...upthread, with Niki, who took those spectacular photos), my daughter, and her friend, Dom, who was one of the Bargetto family hikers who were missing for several days in the snow last month. I posted about the 20+ courses (with wine) here. Because I had serious problems with my camera, I don't have a shot of every dish. And really, it was more about enjoying the evening than working as a photographer. So some photos are out of focus, but that's just because I wanted Dom's family to get a feel of the dishes (and, for example, the butter with fleur de sel). Chef Kinch and his staff outdid themselves. I can't imagine a nicer place to take a group of people intent on celebrating something (or many somethings). It was warm, welcoming, elegant without being stuffy, and a pretty wide cross-section of the populace were represented. Go, if you can.
  19. tanabutler

    green veggies

    My best green dish is green beans (yes, blanch and shock) tossed into a pan containing sautéed red bell peppers, a little teeny bit of balsamic (the older, the better) and sprinkled with the lightest bit of kosher flake salt. Plus the red and green are very pretty. (Prettier still are red, orange and yellow bell peppers.) Note: Brussels sprouts are not a green vegetable, but have been proven to be cancerous cysts on host plants. Someone brought some for me to cook one Thanksgiving and I threw them as far as I could. Ugh.
  20. I reckin I'm married to Karl Childers, who likes "mustard on them French-fried pertaters." I call 'em French fries, and I think ketchup or catsup is just fine. And Satan's white: I guarantee it.
  21. What timing. (I'm sorry to see "Judging a book by its cover" removed as a thread title, since that really is what happens, emotionally, when we visit web sites, and it predated this other thread significantly.) My work on the Manresa web site culminated last night in my reward: a 20+ course chef's tasting at the restaurant in Los Gatos, which I shared with five people. They included: • my husband • his daughter (who'd worked in kitchens starting at age 14, inspired by the kind of cooking she learned from me) • an adult friend • my daughter, who turned 16 in September • my daughter's friend, Dom, also 16, who was one of the missing hikers in the Bargetto family last month in the freakishly early blizzard in the Sierras I was hired for the job of overhauling the site, which needed (we thought) minor tweaking. I agreed to work for trade as I have had Chef Kinch's cooking on several occasions, and think what he's doing is, if not pure genius, exhibits a commitment to artisanal ingredients and techniques that is unsurpassed. It's not the kind of place I could otherwise afford to eat, hence the trade. I learned a lot in the process—the site had a structure that we didn't want to change too much, but there was lots of fine-tuning and some aesthetic choices to be made. Chef was very clear that he didn't want photos of the food on the site: he finds "food porn" uninteresting. I learned a great deal about the European sensibilities and training, which he demonstrated when I asked for examples of how it's done. As in, "That's simply not how it's done." At Manresa, they know how it's done. It was my job to manifest that on the website. Chest-beating and egotism is discouraged as being too American. Things should speak for themselves. (These are my distillations of studying certain aspects of American vs. European way of promoting one's work, especially insofar as it applies to work in the service industries.) The biggest thing I noticed was how important good photography is. I'd been working for some weeks with the old content and photographs, and had grown used to them. When I showed up to photograph Manresa, late on an autumn afternoon when the light was slanted and golden, the first thing I asked was, "Did you just paint?" They hadn't! The old photos were so lackluster: sterile, cold, even corporate-looking. If you've got a nice room, by all means, capture it at the right time of day. Does it look better at night? Shoot at night. Get candlelight, if needed. Make it pretty. Or make it homey, electrifying, avant garde, whatever you have. Find the essence. Is it warm or cool? There are other questions to ask about the photography. People or no people? I generally prefer "no people," unless you're trying to attract people who go to places to be one of the crowd being portrayed. I can see "hot spots" and "family restaurants" being in that arena. Maybe others. It's tricky. There is one place here in town that is considered a Very Nice Place. But their ads are dated, and they've been running the same Romantic Couple Gazing Over The Waterfront for at least a decade. I look at that and can't see myself in the place. People in photos make you run the risk of judgment. ("I can't go there. They're way too trendy for me!" or "I can't go there! Those people look positively unstylish! Those shoes are so last year!") We deliberately made all the pages short enough so that there should be no scrolling, with the possible exception of the index page. The reviews, which have grown into a long list, now generate a pop-up page. Sometimes scrolling is inevitable. We implemented PDF files of menus, so that visitors could see the actual pages: all of this was done in a way intended to carry the vision of the chef to the world beyond. Finally, in the Manresa revamp, we decided to kill the Flash. A new splash screen is in the making, but we all kind of came to the conclusion that it was more annoying than useful. I have come to think that the incessant use of Flash is a pissing contest for show-offs enamored of their own bandwidth. Here is a solution to a Flash screen that still has some life in it, designed by the amazing Nashville graphic artist/designer, DG Strong: Nashville's Germantown Café. (I did production on the site, with some minor creative input such as brightening the rollover photos.) DG wrote all the copy; there is no one alive I like working with more than him. Note in the photos, the people are blurred. I think they look great that way. I don't know if he did that deliberately, but he'd never let it stay on if it weren't just right. Now that I'm nearly done with Manresa's site, I'm still on the quest for good sites. Of those linked above: I lost all patience with Norman's broadband: if you need a thermometer, you're too slow for me! I like the Charlie Palmer one, very much, despite the Flash. It was so nicely done that I sat through the whole thing. On second thought, every single restaurant has new Flash? Break out the buckets, we've got a contest on our hands. 33Liberty is very clean and clear. Never liked the J-G sit: too cold and tiny and alienating to me. It may be good reading, but I often cannot get past a bad first impression. The Alinea site under development does nothing for me, though I am sure the restaurant will be exemplary. The elements embedded in the Flash are crudely clipped (jaggy edges), and the music is (like most music on restaurant sites) annoying, and does nothing to enhance the mood. Extraneous clutter. I don't think it reflects the caliber of his work, but then again, it is a work in progress. Here's a question that bears consideration: why do so many have music that sounds like soft-porn/rave soundtracks?! (The two exceptions that come to mind are Akalare and Olivier-Roellinger.) Finally, you brought up web stats. I have found excellent hosting with many features, including amazing web stat tracking, with WebHost4Life.com. They're only $5/month, they have 24/7 tech support, and a bunch of other great features that are well worth it. (Note: link above goes to my referral ID, as they also pay commission for referrals. I am migrating all my clients there one by one. I've been very pleased with the service.) The web stats include browsers, platforms, unique visitors, number of hits, countries, domain names, referring URLs, searchbots, and basic WHEN/WHO stats that can be dissected in many ways. That's all for now. I see a big list upthread that I haven't been able to visit. If I get a chance, I will. And now, a nap is in order. I'm still yawning from digesting twenty courses and a dozen different kinds of wine.
  22. If that Bauer review were a post, I'd report it. Undue snarkiness.
  23. tanabutler

    Roasting Turkey

    I just returned from Harold McGee's appearance at Bookshop Santa Cruz: a packed house. Oh, did he skunk the briners, but not in a mean way. I think he just wanted to see who was blindly following a trend, and who dared to buck it, as he clearly has. He asked a crowd of 50+ who'd brined and approved. A sea of hands went flying up. Slam dunk. Then he asked who'd brined and didn't enjoy the results, and boy, my hand could not go up high enough. As far as I know, it was the only one aloft. He spent easily five-ten minutes on brining, and why it's not good for flavor, not good for the meat. (Like this: the salt moves in and replaces the actual flavor of the meat.) He knew his stuff. I knew my stuff: it's way too salty, it doesn't taste like turkey any more, and the pan juices taste like battery acid (says me, he was milder in his distaste). He also said, perhaps rightfully, that the problem is that we're using inferior meat. (Which I may be, but I've had such good results with my birds. Important note: I am much on the under-salting side of the populace of home cooks.) He made many points that were eloquent/scientific about the idea of using salt water to replace flavor, the idea that sugar just conceals the over-saltiness of the brine, and so on. His statement, reluctantly accepting dry breast meat (needlessly!), "Breast meat was born for mayonnaise. Use it for sandwiches!" (I could disprove that.) Anyway. For those who have suffered dry turkeys, Blue Hill restaurant in New York (hallowed be their name) has posted a new technique, which involves actually separating the body from the legs, with extra cooking time for the legs. They brine. I don't! Me and Haruld's just a coupla hicks, I reckon. New York magazine article with recipes from Blue Hill: Dan Barber & family for the Last Thanksgiving Supper (very silly picture). That mushroom and hazelnut dressing (it isn't "stuffing," those heretics, unless it's inside the bird) looks wonderful. I feel so refreshed to have been given permission from Mount Olympus never to brine again. I'm sure the SF Chronicle would like to take him on, but I don't need to. I've been making the same good turkey for a decade, and it just doesn't turn up dry. Mayhaw Man, 'scuse me, doll, if I can't do your mama's recipe because I got my own. You know my respect for you is intense (INTENSE) and that every post of yours I come across, I read twice or more. You are the real deal. (Ain't just anybody who gets to be The Real Deal, but I know 'em when I see 'em.) I backed out of cooking the perfect turkey into realizing that a chicken is just a little turkey. Seriously. That's when I started making batches of that herb rub. Meaning absolutely no disrespect, because I think you have sufficiently proved that you rock. Speaking of Thanksgiving, I am thankful you are alive and posting in your singular, groovy voice. With all that entails.
  24. tanabutler

    Roasting Turkey

    No crispy skin?! Sacrilege! Lemoncurd, I baste. It's fun. No cheesecloth, though, it would mess with the herbs. And if you roast upside down, the breast will be a mess. (That's just an aesthetic choice, but I've never had a dried-out bird or an undercooked one. Because I followed the recipe!)
  25. tanabutler

    Roasting Turkey

    If you can follow a recipe, I've made Roast Turkey with Herb Rub and Shiitake Gravy for ten years now. I'd never made a turkey in my life before, and this recipe just knocks it out of the park. Definitely get a meat thermometer. I make the spice blend in my coffee grinder (I don't do coffee), and keep some on hand for roasting chickens year-round. I promise you a spectacular bird if you make it. 83 rave reviews, 97% would make it again, and many of those who reviewed say, as I do, I'll never do turkey any other way. I am in 100% agreement with Harold McGee on brining: I hate it. You lose the underlying sweetness of the turkey meat. If the only excuse to brine is so the bird's not dried out, that's a bad reason, in my book. I've never had a tough/dried turkey, and the year I brined, I just thought it ruined the recipe. Do your "mise en place," and be ready to bask in utter adulation when you serve this turkey. Can you handle it? Good luck!
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