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    Washington, DC
  1. if you've got a gas oven, lightly filming the iron with olive oil (or pork fat, or whatever) and then leaving it overnight in the oven, turned off, works wonders. repeat as necessary--you're already paying for the pilot light.
  2. I can't help you on the tax-free state, but Chesapeake Bay Cooking is one of my staples...
  3. babka


    thinly slice & saute in lots of olive oil until not quite golden, add dried marjoram and continue cooking until dark golden with black spots, add toasted pinenuts, toss & serve with pasta.
  4. I think that Science of Meat page above glosses ove a stage. Brining forces more water into the chicken by virtue of osmosis, but at the same time, the salt works magic on the protein, stretching them a little bit so that they can both absorb more liquid, as the page explains, and _retain it_ through the cooking process, which it doesn't really cover. If memory serves, and it rarely does, Cooks Illustrated once did a side by side weight comparison of chicken soaked in water, a chicken soaked in salt water, and chicken with no treatment. Both the chicken soaked in water and the chicken soaked in salt water gained weight after treatment and lost weight after cooking, but the chicken soaked in salt water retained a significantly higher percentage of its gained weight through the cooking process, while I _think_ the chicken soaked in water lost as much absolute weight as the chicken without treatment. E.g.--it's not the water alone, but the added ability to retain water that makes the difference. So my best guess on the difference between brining and the dry-salt of Zuni is that the Zuni approach, by letting salt work its way through the chicken for 24 hours stretches out the proteins so that the meat retains more of its natural liquids during cooking without forcing in that icky water stuff. and after all--who needs water when there's wine on hand? In addition, the airdrying seems to help on the crispy skin front--I think the salt draws moisture out from the skin, drying it, while working its way into the chicken, making it jucier. (Oh--and Rocks--you were screwed. I've made that bread salad six or seven times and it's one of the single best dishes to come out of my oven.)
  5. wow. speaking as a journalist, I'd be out of my job in a heartbeat if I'd misrepresented that one-time gig to the same extent as the WSJ did. thanks for clarifying, Jose, and please do write that letter. (also, thanks for lunch last week--I hope you know what a wonderful oasis of sanity Cafe Atlantico presents in the middle of the day. :).
  6. 'course, your daughter is about to disown you, practically speaking.
  7. babka

    Barilla blues

    actually, Barilla in the US was always made in the U.S.--the plant is in Ames, Iowa. The box said "Italy's Number 1" pasta, and they got in a bit of legal trouble over that, given that the American product was made in Iowa, albeit with the same grain, recipe, and machines as they used in Italy. don't remember how it was resolved.
  8. nuh-uh. the nibbly nutty cheese with sweet-salty crostini and a spoonful of honey--THAT was the dessert we might have otherwise ordered. the risotto & the quiche was just the second course.
  9. I had cold lamb and sticky baby goat cheese ravioli this morning before the coffee was even done. I'm a happy woman. Food's been voluminiously raved over, but this place has serious class. We had an 8 pm reservation last night, but my guest was jet-lagged and his cab went to the wrong hotel and everybody just smiled at me as ten minutes stretched into forty and I chatted up the Trinidadian doorman, who says the food there is good and all but some hot Indian soup, that's what the day needed. Once seated, neither I nor my guest could drink--me for a cold, he for religion (and that would be the first time in two weeks that I've appreciated my cold)--so we ordered sparkling water and our waiter, bless him, treated it like a bottle of wine--good glasses, never empty, the bottle carefully wiped between pours. We passed on dessert for a cup of tea, and they brought out beautiful little pots and mugs, and we opened the pots, saw the dark liquid, poured, tasted, looked at one another, looked again in the pots with their dark sides, and then caught a staffer's eye. "Tea bags," he declared upon arrival. Yes, please, and some of the most pretentiously-packaged but wonderfully delicate tea I've ever seen was hastily brought out. We may have closed the place down, and we were very, very happy people.
  10. My dearly beloved roommate, an accomplished cook in her own right albeit somewhat new to temperature-sensitive meat dishes, was cooking lamp chops last night for the first time. She called out a question about the temperature. "135," I shouted back. "Not even close," she said, pulling the temperature probe out and stuffing them back under the broiler. "But the temperature is still going up on the probe," she said, holding it out in front of the counter. Five minutes later, she pulled them out to check again. "Should I use the same hole or poke another one?" she asked. "It's an awfully big hole." "Test it in another spot," I said, and she put it in another chop while I came out to check. "Still not there," she said. I looked at the digital read-out, then looked at the probe, which seemed curiously fat. Oh. "It works a bit better," I said, pulling the plastic out of the chop, "with the cover off."
  11. isn't there a Global Market in Pentagon City, too? next to the Sur la Table.
  12. babka

    EVOO on the cheap?

    Goya. Disturbingly aristocratic for its plebian market share.
  13. babka

    Simple pleasures.

    At midnight this evening, my brain remembered that it hadn't been fed since breakfast. With the clock ticking down on a most undignified meltdown, I toasted a slice of brioche, smashed half a ripe avocado into it, and promptly lapsed into an undignified--but fully adult--state of mind. What's your five minutes fix?
  14. an unremarkable local caterer who thoroughly earned the description I gave above but doesn't deserve the public thrashing of having their name published.
  15. My office has one late night a week on which we order dinner in. It's typically pretty wretched stuff--reheated lasagna, dry chicken breasts, sticky-sweet salad dressing, and the occasional much-anticipated sandwich platter. The woman who's just taken over ordering is looking for better suggestions, and since I've got more than a vested interest in the outcome, I thought I'd see what you all could come up with. Our budget is $400, and we've got to feed 23-27 people. Any ideas?
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