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Reputation Makers


Fat Guy
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So my reputation rests on three dishes: Chicken Tikka Masala and Shrimp Fritters both based on recipes by Monica Bhide and Duck Legs braised in Red Wine from Epicurious.com. I have shared the Chicken Tikka recipe but I'm told that no one makes it as well as I do. The shrimp fritters I have altered somewhat from the original and hubby and other members of the family make frequent requests for these. The duck follows the recipe exactly and works every time - braised duck legs with crispy skin - life doesn't get much better than that.

(In the interests of proper disclosure I was the main recipe tester for Monica Bhide's book The Everything Indian Cookbook in which the first two recipes appear).

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Oh, and my mango pudding. It's not really my recipe--we got it from my aunt who got it from who knows where. It changes every time I make it (more or less cream gets added, more or less milk, etc.), but it's always a good recipe.

Ah yes, your mango pudding has gotten me a few nice compliments - and two sticky thumbs up from the rug rat.

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It's a hard question for me to answer, unlike my wife who has a repertoire of off-the-charts awesome baked goods that are famous in our circles and fought over at pot lucks. I see cooking as a creative opportunity to try new ingredients and techniques -- I don't think I've ever made exactly the same thing twice. My reputation, I think, is that I'll try anything, with enthusiasm, and with a little research.

But that's not what you asked. I think the cookbook of reputation making ideas could exist, more easily for the farinaceous world of baking than for savory cooking.

I'd say seafood is my strongest suit, but I will submit my duck liver pâté for consideration. You don't need cognac but you do need uberfresh organic duck livers. Saute minced shallots and garlic in 1:1 butter:duck fat until soft, remove, add cleaned and chopped liver and saute until the pink is almost gone, place in processor. Add just-cracked black pepper, coarse salt and the 10% cream as the processor is running. Cool in a jar, seal with unsalted butter.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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My entry for this category would be a cookie that I've just been calling Browned Butter Crisps. I wrote about them here a few years ago, and as I said then, they're greater than the sum of their parts.

The ancestor to these cookies is a recipe from one of my first cookbooks, a Sunset book called Cooking with Spices and Herbs. The original recipe calls for melted (not browned) butter and cloves as the flavoring. I loved them, but I found that cloves seem to be an all or nothing spice -- people either loved them or hated them -- so I didn't make them very often. Then I read a cookie recipe that called for browning the butter, and I adopted that technique for the cookies, playing around with the spice profile at the same time. Finally I decided on a combination of cardamom and cinnamon, which I've stuck with ever since.

They're so unassuming looking that they take people by surprise. For instance, I was demonstrating them in a class some years ago, and one of the students asked what could be done to "dress it up" -- i.e., could she use it as a sandwich cookie or dip it in chocolate, or what? I said, truthfully, that it had never occurred to me that anything needed to be done to it. She looked dubious until she tasted them.

I made them last year during the Christmas season at the store where I was working, so they're now the unofficial Christmas cookie there. Now I see that the recipe is all over the internet, spread by a couple of bloggers -- Baking Beast and Taste Goblet (who at least did credit eGullet.org, if not me), so I guess it's not "mine" anymore. Oh well.

Browned Butter Crisps

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

pinch salt

1. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter and continue to cook until it browns. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn. Let cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, mix browned butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and mix until smooth.

3. Stir the flour and spices until spices are distributed evenly; add to butter mixture and mix until blended thoroughly.

4. Drop by teaspoonfuls on Silpat-lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until edges are turning golden and the tops have begun to crinkle.

5. Let cool on the sheets for a few seconds, then remove and cool completely.

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My other reputation maker is a coddled egg dish that I appropriated from the Alain Ducasse repertoire. Over the course of a dozen or so meals at his now-defunct restaurant in the Essex House in New York City, I only came across a couple of dishes I thought I could attempt to make at home without days and days of labor. Which is not to say that, even after dozens of attempts, I can produce a dish as good as what I had at the restaurant. But guests are pretty impressed with my inferior version which, in the grand scheme of things, is a better dish than one generally expects to be served outside of a fancy restaurant.

The main components of the dish are an egg and some kind of vegetable puree. In this instance, at the Essex House, the dish was prepared with salsify puree. The egg (they use yolk only at the restaurant) is placed atop the warm puree in a Staub mini cocotte, which is placed in a water bath and cooked until the yolk is relatively set. This one was served during truffle season:

ducasseegg_edited-1.jpg

I don't make it that nice. I use the whole egg, my purees aren't nearly as refined and creamy, and I don't have white truffles around. And my mini cocottes are Le Creuset not Staub. (The dish, however, can be made quite well in a ramekin or even ceramic teacups.)

I started out doing this dish with a potato puree, but have branched out. Most recently I did it with grits into which I mixed some flaked smoked trout. Please don't laugh when you see how much worse mine looks than the restaurant version. Remember, my guests don't have that reference point, so they think it's good. Needless to say, if Ducasse ever comes over for dinner, I'll serve the lentil dish instead. (That's citrus salt on top, which is the one nice touch I came up with.)

lecreusetegg.jpg

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The cooking world already has a term for reputation makers, they're called "signature dishes". I'm almost embarrassed to put mine down since I usually cook complex, layered dishes but my signature dishes tend to be far more simple & pedestrian.

Spaghetti & Peas

So deceptively simple and yet it still astounds me how much flavor can be coaxed out of such pedestrian ingredients.

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

This is what I bring to parties all the time. When made incorrectly, it's a giant bowl of blah but when you hit the seasoning balance just right, it emerges as a complex & engaging dish.

1 package frozen corn (fire roasted from Trader Joe's if you can get it), defrosted

1 can of black beans, drained & washed

2 avocados, diced

jalapeno

spring onion

garlic

cilantro

olive oil

cumin

sugar

salt

lime juice

keep on adjusting until the flavors mesh. Let it stand for an hour to fully integrate.

Be careful not to overseason or the entire dish is ruined. I've never been able to recover from an excess of any of these ingredients.

Pork Neck Noodle Soup

A new one which I've only made the second time tonight but most definitely a signature dish

marinate 3 lbs of pork neck bones in dark soy & miso paste (this cannot be made with any other cut of pork)

Roast in the oven until just slightly browned.

In a large pot, add:

1 whole bunch of spring onions

3 1/2 inch slices of ginger

6 crushed garlic cloves

5 star anise

12 dried chillis

1 stick of cinnamon

1 tbsp szechuan pepper corn

1 tbsp of black pepper

12 dried shitake mushrooms

roasted pork & drippings

Cover with water & cook at a gentle simmer for 1.5 - 2 hours.

What emerges is the most soulful, delicately scented pork broth I've ever tasted which is now an amazing canvas for any sort of noodle soup. Take out the pork & mushrooms and strain out the rest of the solids. This is enough to make ~10 cups of broth.

PS: I am a guy.

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Tri2Cook - nope, I really don't, because I pretty much never rework dishes. If I make something wonderful once, I might make it again just for us, but I really don't serve guests the same thing twice.

PaulRaphael - you really ought to include the link to your poached turkey technique. That's quite special!

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Okay, I'll bite. I'm always one to toot my own horn. ;)

3490479668_fd20b7dc53_o.jpg

Broccoli rabe and heirloom beans with sourdough-garlic croutons and cheese

One of my better creations since starting my seasonal cooking experiment.

Most of what I cook isn't "wow" food by any means. It doesn't strive to be.

On the other hand, I think the pictures speak for themselves. ;)

Okay, you got me! Care to share the recipe?

Thanks

Dan

1 1/2 cups cooked beans (1)

1 cup bean cooking liquid

extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, skinned and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

handful of fresh oregano, chopped

1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 slices sourdough bread, cut into cubes

3 T. unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 T. chopped parsley

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the croutons: Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add bread cubes and parsley. Stir. Toss cubes until golden brown, taking care not to burn the garlic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Warm olive oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrot, bay leaf and oregano. Lower heat and cook, gently stirring until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add broccoli rabe along with the bean cooking liquid. When greens have wilted, add the cooked beans and simmer, adding more cooking liquid as necessary. Cook until the greens are done, roughly 15 minutes. Check seasoning. Stir in parsley. Divide portions amongst soup bowls. Drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on top, sprinkle with croutons and grated cheese and serve immediately.

(1) — I used cellini beans and borlotti beans from Rancho Gordo but any dried beans will do. Place 1 cup beans in a heavy bottomed oven-proof pot or Dutch oven along with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, then place in a pre-heated 350 F oven and cook for 90 minutes. If you add aromatics to the water like I did, be prepared to extend the cooking time to almost 3 hours. Beans should be tender or close to it. If you think they need more time, add a pinch of salt and extend oven-cooking time by another 30 minutes. You can cook the beans a couple of days ahead of time if you like. That way the prep time won’t seem so onerous.

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I think its interesting that sometimes the dishes that become your reputation makers aren't the ones that are even your personal favorites. About six months ago I brought a batch of chocolate Guinness cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting to a party. I knew they were good, but somehow, the memory of them has stuck with several people who were at this party, such they have been mentioned swooningly several times, and people inquire hopefully if I'm going to bring them to various events... Meanwhile my BBQ ribs, which I think are particularly excellent, and were enjoyed by this same group of people, don't seem to have made the same kind of impact.

Here's the link to the recipe...

http://pinchmysalt.com/2008/11/05/chocolate-stout-cupcakes-with-vanilla-cream-cheese-frosting/

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Here's one that most friends ask for again & again. Being lazy I've just copied the recipe over from my blog site. Lots more over there. I'd also say that my cassoulet is a reputation maker. Even our French neighbors ask for it.

This post, however, is far simpler. Its about my favorite way to cook a pork loin roast. Tasty and delicious. In fact as I'm writing this after dinner my sister-in-law is still going on about how good the pork was. Nice compliment. Anyway, first you buy your pork. Look for a nice lean loin roast , not the tenderloin, but loin.

Once you have that you want to brine it for at least 48 hours, preferably for 72 hours. Just make up a brine with roughly one cup of salt per 2 quarts of water, add about a tablespoon of sugar, then your herbs. The herbs are to your choice, but I use marjoram, thyme, crushed juniper berries, crushed black peppercorns and coriander seeds. Mix the brine well, put the pork roast in making sure its covered and put it in the fridge for the requisite amount of time. Give it a stir every so often.

About 3-4 hours before you're going to cook it take the pork out of the fridge and out of the brine and let it rest at room temperature. Set the oven for 150 degrees F, not Centigrade.

Now make a paste using lots of Dijon mustard, fresh sage (dry if you can't get fresh) well chopped up, and coarsely ground black peppercorns. Spread this thickly over the top of the roast then place the roast in the pre-heated oven.

Roast for one to two hours depending upon the size of the roast or until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast reads 135 degrees F.

Take the roast out of the oven, scrape the crust off into the roasting pan and set the roast onto a carving board to rest. Place the roasting pan over medium high heat, add a good dollop of dry white wine to the roasting pan and stir around to get all of the crust and baked on bits dissolved. Add one pork stock cube (if you have one. If not its OK, the gravy just won't be quite as rich.) Turn the heat right down and when the mixture quits boiling add a generous amount of cream (the heavier the better, but if you're watching the calories you can use lighter cream or even sour cream), bring back to the boil and stir until it gravy is reduced and of a nice thick consistency. Put the heat on low and carve the roast into nice slices.

Don't be panicked if the pork looks red. The brining process cures the meat and its perfectly safe to eat and will be the moistest most tender pork you've ever had.

Serve with the gravy and enjoy.

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but when I went to use it I discovered that our trusty Nikon's batteries were too low for picture taking.

In any case its not a particularly photogenic recipe, but do try it as its absolutely delicious.

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PaulRaphael - you really ought to include the link to your poached turkey technique. That's quite special!

Thanks for reminding me. I still think of that as George Perrier's recipe, but looking back at his version, there's little resemblance anymore besides the poaching. I uploaded it here.

Notes from the underbelly

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I live in a cohousing community where we have shared meals several nights a week. Since cooks and menus are posted in advance, reputation does become important in determining whose meals you want to eat, and I have garnered something of a reputation in the community as a good cook. I've probably got two signature dishes that I can count on a big turnout for.

The first is tortilla soup. I use a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, scaled up to serve the 50-60 people that tend to turn up for that meal. The recipe starts off with canned stock (I actually use Better than Bouillon) which is "enriched" by cooking the chicken in it along with some onion, garlic, fresh oregano and fresh cilantro. The chicken and stock are reserved while the solids are thrown away. Then I puree tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chipotle, and cook it with a little oil until it darkens in color and some of the liquid evaporates. That gets added to the stock along with the chicken pulled off the bones. This layering of flavors really creates a complex and flavorful broth, without a lot of work (important for the time and context I have to work in). I serve it buffet style with oven-crisped tortilla strips, avocado, monterey jack, jalepenos, cilantro, lime, and pureed chipotles en adobo, so diners can tweak it to their specifications.

My other guaranteed hit meal is Pecan Crusted Tilapia with Brown Butter Sauce. Dead easy (especially in small quantities - it's a pain in the neck to cook the fish for a big crowd). I combine equal parts panko and pecans in a food processor, and process to to even crumbs (but not too fine). Dredge tilapia filets in seasoned flour, dip in egg, and coat in the crumb mixure. Then fry until crisp. For the sauce, I brown some butter, then add lemon juice, salt and a bit of chopped tarragon.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Apparently I don't have a picture of this (if I do, I can't find it) so I guess I'll post it without and hopefully find one somewhere. Three years ago I was asked to do a dinner for the local chapter of a charity group. The guest of honor was a lover of all things bbq. The problem was that it was scheduled for late November which around here means very cold with lots of snow and ice. So I developed a multi-course dinner based around the flavors of bbq that incorporated the flavors of the season and could be done entirely indoors. This was one of the dishes. It went over so well that I continued to refine it and have used it many times since... usually by request. This is the current version. It's nothing groundbreaking but it's something that people seem to know about locally, even if they haven't eaten it. I did a blueberry based (blueberry bbq sauce, blueberry compote) version of this for a "taste of the town" thing during the local blueberry festival last year as well.

pulled pork hock:

Sear a slab of pork belly in a large pan and remove. Brown fresh pork hocks in the pan and remove. Add diced onion, celery and carrot and caramelize. Add chopped garlic and cook until the pungency reduces. Add vinegar, dry mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Place pork belly, a smoked pork hock and the seared hocks on the veggies and add water. Heat to a simmer and braise covered until the hocks are tender in a 300 F oven. Remove the hocks and bacon from the pan, reserve the bacon. Sieve the liquid and reserve.

Extract the meat from the hocks, shred, and mix in some of the bbq sauce. At serving time heat the pulled pork, moisten with the braising liquid as needed.

bbq pork belly:

Remove the skin (reserve) from the braised pork belly and cut the belly into bite size cubes. At serving time, sear the surface where the skin was removed in a very hot pan and brush the cubes with bbq sauce.

pumpkin bbq sauce:

Cook diced onions in butter until caramelized. Add minced garlic and cook to soften. Add pumpkin puree, cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, ketchup, chipotle in adobo (pureed), nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and brown sugar. Cook for about 20 minutes on very low heat stirring frequently until thick, add bourbon, blitz in a blender and pass through a chinois. Adjust flavors to taste and season with smoked salt.

cranberry compote:

Caramelize pearl onions in a little oil and remove from pan. Pour off any excess oil and add cranberry juice and fresh cranberries. Cook until the cranberries soften, stirring occasionally. Add sugar to taste, minced jalapeno and the onions. Cook to thicken a bit and season with salt and pepper.

corn pudding:

Cook corn kernels in butter until caramelized, add cream, puree and sieve. Cook cornmeal in milk. Cool completely. Combine the cormeal in a mixer bowl with egg, melted butter and salt. Bake cormeal mixture 30 min. at 350 F. Puree pudding and corn/cream mixture in a blender with enough additional cream (if needed) to get a thick puree, season with salt.

cracklins:

Cut the reserved pork belly skin into squares roughly the same size as the pork belly cubes. Flash in hot oil and season with salt.

Since this is part of a multi-course menu, I keep it small. I plate it with a couple cubes of the belly, a couple bites of the hock, some of the bbq sauce, a couple small spoons of the compote and a few small dollops of the pudding. I top the belly cubes with the cracklins and give the pulled hock a spray of North Carolina style vinegar sauce.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Really outrageous? veal crown roast.

Artoeat would you please share your recipe.

Thanks

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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I just received an email from my friend/former neighbor & landlady in Moab where DH and I lived for 6 months from fall 08 to spring 09. The Director of the Multicultural Center, where my friend volunteers with young Hispanic kids, was giving her yearly 'we must eat healthy snacks' lectures, and then she added...except for the delicious things that Denny's next door neighbor makes.

That was me and the kids called me the Candy Lady. Talk about a wonderful reputation! :wub: It doesn't come much better than that.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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My reputation makers are all things I've been working on, refining, for a long time. Mostly they used to be main dishes like baked chicken - I've learned to use thighs, not breasts, and bone-in, not boneless, for better flavor, and I've experimented with marinades - yogurt, buttermilk, etc. Just this weekend I tried using jarred (Marie's) blue cheese salad dressing, and it was great - it's really good and very easy. I always do big batches, and the resulting chicken salad from the leftovers is always great, too. I just use whatever I used for the marinade as the binder.

But lately I've had sucesses with two baking projects, scones and onion rye rolls. This is challenging, because I don't eat baked goods myself, so I must rely on aroma and looks, and my (I must say very willing) husband or the kids at our school to be my taste-testers.

For the scones, I made two breakthroughs recently. The first is grating the butter, rather than chopping it. Makes a big difference. The second is shaping the dough into a loose log roll and then breaking off six equal sized pieces and gently shaping them into balls and flattening ever so slightly by pressing a little more of whatever fruit (or chocolate chips) I'm using into the tops, rather than doing the disk-cut-into-six-equal-wedges thing. They come out so much better this way for me. (I know, I must have been overhandling the dough). I'm a bad scientist, according to my husband -- I made both of these changes in the same batch, rather than one at a time, so I don't know which one made the difference - I think both did.

For the rolls, ah, they were a challenge! For a while now my Mom has been sending my husband onion pumpernickelrolls from her local Publix, which he loves, and I'd been trying to dupicate them. Mine aren't exactly the same (hers are pumpernickel, mine are lighter rye), but he swears they're perfect. I did what I usually do - checked the ingredients on the ones Mom sent, scoured the internet and my cookbooks for recipes, and just played in the kitchen until I got the results I wanted. But the breakthroughs there were to use beer instead of water (which I now do with most breads - try Guiness Stout in the case of the no-knead bread), and to use raw onions in the dough, but carmelized ones on the tops, which look much nicer. I had thought that caramelized onions *in* the dough would be a great idea, but they lost their snap! Oh, and I also doubled the amount of caraway seeds I found in most recipes. Wish I could eat them - they smell absolutely wonderful. I brought those in to work for the montly science dept. lunch, and now that's a permanant gig. :smile:

I have to say, both of these breakthroughs came after I traded in my old oven for a spiffy new convection one - it's just so much fun to play with! The kids are getting snickerdoodles all the time now, because I can make a huge batch in no time. Fun! Oh, and reputation makers for kids are all about sweet, sweet, sweet. The bittersweet chocolate brownies which all of our adult friends love bombed completely with the kids.

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I think I have four, all of which are homey dishes that require a lot of time and sides, and none of which I can take credit for.

David Thompson's incredible Beef Panaeng recipe from Thai Food, an intricate but simple dish with which I serve lots of sticky rice, pickles, salads, and a simple soup. It changes the way that everyone thinks about Thai food.

Gumbo, which I haven't made the same way twice in my life. Lately I've been emphasizing tasso, but that'll change in time, too. Ditto cassoulet, which I vary according to available meats and ingredients and serve to all comers on New Years Day each year.

And, finally, my butt: method here, rub here.

It's no accident that most of these dishes are a result of the ideas and support of other Society members here in eG Forums. Couldn't have done it without y'all.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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David Thompson's incredible Beef Panaeng recipe from Thai Food, an intricate but simple dish with which I serve lots of sticky rice, pickles, salads, and a simple soup. It changes the way that everyone thinks about Thai food.

Interesting. Panaeng curry is southern, so it's not traditionally eaten with sticky rice. That combination truly makes it your own.

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Interesting. Panaeng curry is southern, so it's not traditionally eaten with sticky rice. That combination truly makes it your own.

We're not sticklers here. I'm nearly always serving it to kids, and rice balls are de rigueur for the short set. :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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And, finally, my butt: method here, rub here.

It's no accident that most of these dishes are a result of the ideas and support of other Society members here in eG Forums. Couldn't have done it without y'all.

Chris, I could not have said this better myself. Were it not for other Society members, I never would have tackled smoked meat (add Brisket to the list, please!); on a Trusty Old Kettle, to boot.

Butt (we prefer ours nekked -- not rubbed -- and insert male juvenile humor here) and brisket, smoked naturally, are my signatures. The sides vary, which surprises and delights guests and family. And, I can't think of more versatile leftovers.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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The two dishes that people always ask for and rave and ask the recipes for are my noodle coleslaw, baklava, and Linzer Torte squares. That said, I am consistently needled that I have not provided the full recipe because they can't replicate it. When you make something that many times, and improvise as needed, it is hard to explain to people. Ironically, as others have noted, these are not the dishes I love or even make that often. For instance, I only bake the two referenced items at Christmas. The noodles in my slaw are fat square (4 sided) fresh Chinese egg noodles that are pre boiled in water seasoned with soy sauce. The cabbage is usually Napa. Cucumbers, green onion, apple or grapes or both are always included. The dressing is not pre-mixed but rather each item is plopped into the bowl on top of the vegetables (mixed in as we go) and includes Dijon mustard, a bit of mayo, some sort of soy and sesame oil based vinegrette, and a few different acids (vinegar, citrus). Children known to hide veggies in napkins, and meat only eating males devour it. The baklava is a very simple sugar based recipe from a Jordanian native. Everyone goes on about the honey etc- nope - sugar, water, and some lemon juice from lemons off the tree. I did use calamansi juice last year and it was really nice. I think I use more cinnamon than others and I have been doing it long enough that my pastry is golden and the consistency of my syrup is "perfect" :biggrin: As to the Linzer Torte squares- they were the happy result of too much to do in too little time. Made a Linzer Torte essentially into bar cookies. I vary the jams I use as well, always including either red currant or tarting it up with lemon juice and rind. The ratio of jam to dough is high so they get really chewy and apparently addictive.

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David Thompson's incredible Beef Panaeng recipe from Thai Food, an intricate but simple dish with which I serve lots of sticky rice, pickles, salads, and a simple soup. It changes the way that everyone thinks about Thai food.

Great to see an Australian chef getting some recognition. Thai Food is a true masterpiece.

The dish that I've made that is often mentioned by friends is a gin and tonic jelly with a mint leaf suspended in it, served in a martini glass topped with lemon sorbet. It's kind of dated and unoriginal but people love it.

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What kind.color lentils?

I've used pretty much every available lentil over time, and most of them work fine, but the best are either the small French green ones (Puy) or Pardinas, which are not identical but quite similar (except Pardinas are a lot cheaper and are available in normal American supermarkets from Goya). The dish is pretty good, though, even with the cheapest large split green-gray supermarket lentils.

The only lentils that have been a real disaster are the yellow ones, because they turn to mush so readily.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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