Profile

Scottzel

I am 63 year old Reform rabbi who comes from a family that cooks and loves to eat. Sadly, with middle age have come more food restrictions above and beyond the religious issues. Much of my food-related life now is about dealing with Type II diabetes.

  • Location: Winchester, VA
  • Favorite foods: all kinds of greens, brisket, carmelized onions, fluffy matzo balls, peppers - hot and sweet, soup, pizza...and many, many more.
  • Last bite on earth: burnt ends from a brisket that has been cooked over hickory for 8+ hours.

3-Ingredient Matzo Sandwiches For Passover

Thanks so much...there are some great ideas here and even the non-kosher ones are inspiring me to get past my usual (and admittedly ho-hum) tuna, egg salad and sliced turkey. I also make really good matzah nachos with homemade salsa.

Burger City Guides: Tom Douglas's Favorite Burgers in Seattle

I haven't lived in Seattle for 10+ years, but the last time I visited for business, my ol' buddy who picked me up from the hotel, only asked about which Red Mill I wanted to visit. I ate my share of burgers from Dick's over the years...but if I have but one burger to eat on a visit...it will be Red Mill.

How do You Take Criticism?

As part of a family of foodies, critiquing the food is a long-established tradition. BTW, I LOVE the distinction between critiquing and criticizing. Yes, individual tastes vary, but one can somewhat objectively state that the turkey spent too much time in the smoker, the roasted potatoes didn't have enough rosemary, the cookies are cloyingly sweet etc. etc.

As home cooks, our goals are very different than that of a pro cook, even though I like to think that we adhere to very high standards for ingredients and prep. Ideally, the critique begins, "This was really good, thanks for preparing it. BUT...." I can live with that very easily.

Eating at Someone Else's House

My late FIL had a great philosophy: Cook.Clean

He and my MIL had a small kitchen and they frequently fed a very large family. Cleaning up in between cooking courses or prepping was a revelation for me and in the ensuing years, we've actually picked appliances, counters and flooring that maximized our ease in keeping clean, tidy and a good work flow. A commitment to clean surfaces and utensils before, during and after a meal is, for me, both an aesthetic as well as a health consideration. I think of a very clean kitchen as an integral part of the overall presentation of a dish/meal...at home. All that said, I don't ever feel comfortable in looking too closely at someone else's kitchen. I am reminded of a classic bit of Jewish humor - a woman takes the whole chicken from the butcher and sniffs under the wings, the legs and in the cavity and then hands it back to the butcher and demands another chicken. The butcher responds, "Lady, could you pass that test?"

Seattle: Where to Eat at Pike Place Market

We've had a couple of fantastic meals at The Steelhead Diner. Also, great advice regarding the World Spice Merchants. I also want to add my vote for Mee Sum and Three Girls.

Amusing aphorisms/signs in restaurants

In 1976, my wife and I were on our back to the west coast after living in NYC for a year. We stopped at a roadside cafe for breakfast in a tiny town in Kansas. What attracted my attention on the highway was the sign advertising the world's largest prarie dog statue.

I ate a lot of meat in those days and ordered steak and eggs. I was commenting about how cheap the steak was when my eyes wandered to the bottom of the menu. It read, "Can't believe our beef prices? Our brother-in-law is a cattler rustler." Even 35 years later, the combination of the prarie dog statue and that tag line still makes me laugh.

Daily Slice: Libretto's Pizzeria, Murray Hill

I must confess, I used to eat at Libretto's mostly because it was close to my office and next door to Sarge's Deli. I mostly ate calzones and salads...and the occasional slice. I agree the sauce is pretty bland. I also have to say that the quality of the pizza varied widely depending on the time of day and who was cooking that day. All that said, it was always busy.

Family Tradition at Antonio's Pizzeria in Sherman Oaks, California

As a teenager growing up in the Valley, Antonio's was one of my first-choice Italian places to eat with friends or to take a date. We moved from the LA area twenty years ago, but I have very fond memories of a then-relatively-new Antonio's...big portions, tasty food and nice people. When our kids were little, we preferred Lido's on Victory Blvd mainly because it was so close to our house, but we ate at Antonio's many times in the '80's as well. Thanks, Lara for bringing back some happy memories.

PAULA DEAN

Like many others, I have the utmost respect for Ms. Deen and her remarkable story...AND...I have never and will likely never cook anything she makes. I stopped watching her show after a few episodes when I realized that it bears no relationship to the way me and my family cook and eat. Nothing more complicated than that.

Grilling: Pizza

We have a gas grill with 3 horizontal burners. We also use an inexpensive square kiln shelf (purchased from a pottery supply company for 25% of what you'd pay for a pizza stone that's made from the same stuff). We use a lower, indirect fire and put a generous handful of corn meal under the pizza. We also tend to use pre-formed corn meal crusts for our pizzas. However, we cook/roast a huge variety of breads, meats, veggies, etc. on the grill...often using the stone to spread the heat. Especially during the summer, this helps with keeping the house cooler and the a/c bills lower.

Recipe Request: Best Brisket Recipes

This is a not overly complicated, but very time-consuming version of brisket. That said, it is complex and wonderful, if I do say so myelf.
You need to start this three days in advance.
Begin with putting a dry rub on both sides of the brisket. My dry rub has brown sugar, salt, Spanish sweet paprika (pimenton), garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and a dash of cayenne. Refrigerat overnight. The next day, the brisket goes into a cold smoker with fat cap up. I smoke it for 6 hours over a mixture of mesquite and alder. Then it goes into a Dutch oven that has 2 medium onions that are thinly sliced on the bottom and 2 medium onions, thinly sliced on the top. A half bottle of red wine of choice (I like a Cabernet) is poured around the sides and gently over the top. Depending on the size of the brisekt, this cooks for 2.5-3.5 hours in a 300 degree oven. In the final hour and a half, you can add potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. around the side. After it's done cooking, carefully remove and separate onions, root veggies and pan juices. Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and let it cool overnight in the fridge. The next day, slice and reheat with about a quarter of the pan juices. Veggies can be reheated separately either in the oven or microwave. I reduce the remaining pan juices by about half and season as needed. Like I said, time consuming for sure, but the smoking process adds an incredible depth of flavor.

Served: The Hook-Up

feistyfoodie nails it..."people really do appreciate being remembered." I began my working life scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins store. I learned, early on, that a smile, a warm greeting and if possible, a reference to a regular or recent order, combined with a good product at a fair price is the right path to success. Nothing I've experienced in the ensuing 43 years has taken the shine off that early lesson. Great job, Hannah!

In Videos: 'Chinese Food on Christmas'

OMG, that hot dog sounds incredible...my two favorite Korean foods on/in a hot dog! Where is NY Hot Dog and Coffee?

Brisket Bourguignon

Andreas, great tip...thanks so much.

Help me out here folks...I was taught to slice the brisket with the grain. I did a very similar recipe for our Hanukah celebration and sliced with the grain...tender as could be. Also, I put the 5+ lbs of brisket in our cold smoker for nearly 6 hours with a mixture of hickory and alderwood before the slow cooking in the oven. Even the pan juices had a subtle smoky flavor...it was a great additional layer of flavor...our guests all commented positively on both the meat and the pan juices I served with it.

In Videos: 'Chinese Food on Christmas'

My Facebook page yesterday had this post: Scott is looking forward to an old-fashioned Christmas...a movie and Chinese food.

We saw 'Milk' and then went to our favorite DC area Chinese restaurant, Paul Kee in Wheaton, MD. Both were wonderful :)

Happy Hanukah everyone!

Oh crap, the dog ate the....

Our late and beloved 98 lb Lab/Rotweiler mix was capable of eating huge amounts of anything that resembled food. My late and beloved mother in law was visiting for Passover one year and had just taken the traditional gigantic brisket out of the oven and (non-dog owning person that she was) simply put it on the counter for my father-in-law to slice. She returned from her afternoon walk and assumed that her husband has sliced the brisket, wrapped it in foil and put it in the fridge..the pan was empty, after all. Well, not a 5 seconds later, the dog came around the corner from the living room with onions literally dripping from his chin. He had consumed nearly 5 lbs of brisket with onions and gravy. Other than a couple of loud belches, he (and we) suffered no ill effects.

Can I make my Thanksgiving Turkey a day ahead and reheat?

I've had good success with a brined and bbq'ed bird that was carved and refrigerated with stock/pan juices as noted above. The brining is important, I think, to making it moist. It also seems to help it, along with the pan juices, to remaining moist the next day.

Did smoking kill your taste buds?

Two years ago next month, my wife and I went cold turkey together...responding to different but serious health conditions. I have had the exact same situation as pjracz...if I add even tiny amounts of salt, I notice it and worse, my blood pressure elevates 10-20 points.

The Carney's Burger Trainwreck in Studio City, California

Damon,

You nailed it...all show and no go. I never liked Carney's food..I'd much rather eat at Fatburger or Tommy's. I also want to offer a moment of condolence, as I heard that Fat Jack's recently closed down.

Must-Go Places in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle

As a former Seattleite (Bainbridge Island, actually), I heartily agree with all the recommendations. We had an amazing meal at the Steelhead Diner last year. I also love Shanghai Garden in the International District. If you have a few hours, take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and have brunch/lunch at the Streamliner Diner, about 3 blocks from the ferry terminal. No matter how good or bad the weather is, the 35 minute ride is beautiful. Have a great visit!

The Bill's Hamburgers Experience in Van Nuys, California

Wow...I lived in the Valley for 30 years and in Van Nuys for 9 years...really close to Bill's and I also drove by it and never noticed it. Next trip back to the Valley (I live on the East Coast now) I will definitely check it out. I appreciate a fresh perspective on the LA burger scene. Keep up the good work!

Sugar Rush: Strudel and Kugelhopf from Andre's Cafe

I'll look forward to trying Andre's but the only bad food memory that I have of my Hungarian grandmother is walking in the house after school and the wave of horrific cabbage odor that would smack me and my brothers in the face. It meant that a) relatives were on the way over b) cabbage strudel would be part of the menu. On the other hand, it also meant that our reward for helping to pull the strudel dough into paper-thin sheets was that our grandmother would trim the edges, bake the narrow strips of dough, and layer them with vanilla pastry cream in what seemed like a foot-tall pile. No dessert I've ever eaten could match how good that tasted.

Inexpensive, Versatile Foods in the Pantry

ditto on the israeli couscous
pimenton...Spanish smoky paprika
couple of varieties of olive oil
black beans
2-3 varieties of Goya salsitas
various whole wheat pastas
freezer items to include: boneless/skinless chicken breasts, organic cornmeal pizza crusts, quart bags of crushed tomatoes from the garden

What is the most vile dish you have ever created?

I am legendary for a dish I cooked in grad school...trying to make fried rice with assorted vegetables. Instead, it was a gloppy, gelatinous mess of half-cooked rice, scrambled egg and salty, mushy mixed vegetables from a Bird's Eye bag that had been sitting in the back of the freezer for most of that semester. My old roommate brings it up any chance he gets...even though, thanks to my wife, I have become a reasonably good cook. It is still good for a big laugh.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet Week 31: Taking the Week Off

Hang in there, Ed...I have been following your diet's progress as it closely matches my own struggles...we weigh exactly the same today! Enjoy your weekend but pay attention to what you're eating. I'll look forward to reading about it next week.

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