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The Best Way to Cook Frozen Dumplings

@timdiggerm. I use a metal vegetable steamer on a regular basis to steam them. Just remember to spray it with some oil (Pam, etc). Otherwise they'll stick. And don't try to make too many at once, they tend to stick together if they're touching.

The Art of Tarte Flambée: Alsatian Pizza With Fromage Blanc, Bacon, and Onions

First had this at "Le Bourse" on a wonderful visit to Strasbourg more than 30 years ago. Now I can have it tomorrow night. Sweet.


How to Cook a Spatchcocked Turkey: The Fastest, Easiest Thanksgiving Turkey

I guess I go a step further when I "spatchcock." I start at the back bone with a boning knife and and slowly bone the skin and meat from one side of the carcass (don't forget the "oyster" meat on the top of the backbone). Soon enough you run into the thigh and wing joints, and separate them. Before you know it you're carefully boning the breast from the ribcage. Now's the time you'll wish you'd have cut out the wishbone before you did anything else. I forgot this time, but I won't next.

At any rate, you do the other side, and suddenly you have a spatchcocked bird, except the only bones are in the thighs, legs, and wings. I lay it skin-side up on on an inch-and-a-half bed of sage dressing. First, that gives you an entire carcass to use later for soup or stock. And there will be some meat left on the carcass no matter how good a butcher you are! Second, though it extends the cooking time a little bit (my turkey started at 11 pounds and took 90 minutes), the carving at the table is the easiest ever. The legs, wings, and thighs almost fall off, and best, the breast carves like a boneless breast. No bones to work around, no awkward "slice across the bottom of the breast and then down from the top." One slice gives you breast meat and dressing!

As for gravy, all the pan juices are absorbed by the dressing, which isn't a bad thing, but what do you do? I start boiling the neck and giblets with celery left over from the dressing as soon as I can (it almost immediately makes the kitchen smell like Thanksgiving). Let it boil down refill, and boil down. You might have some turkey stock left over from making the dressing as well, and with a good roux and seasoning there's no problem to good gravy.

I did this a couple of times in the 80s and forgot how good a method it is. I'll never forget again.

RIP Hot Doug's: A Love Letter

Just before my first trip to Chicago after I'd heard of Hot Doug's I emailed his webpage FAQ. I had the time, and wondered if one needed a car or taxi to get there from the loop, or if there was a decent transit option.

Well, it apparently wasn't a FAQ, because I got a personal response from Doug timed at 6:30 the next morning. He not only told me the way, but added the link to Chicago transit.

First, adding the link shows Doug's typical thoroughness, it seems to me. Second, Doug's days were much longer than most banker's; on the website early, then to the place for service, and after service testing recipes, I expect. Add ordering and standard management hassles, and it was probably more than a full day, every day.

I do have one more trip to Chicago planned before October. I'm not gonna miss it.

26 Must-Eat Dumplings in NYC

I took Kenji's advice and stopped at Prosperity Dumpling (on Eldridge just north of Canal) just 3 nights ago, on a trip to NYC. It was fabulous. 10 large steamed dumplings for $2.75. I make a similar filling at home, and I can't figure out the pricing even if they own the real estate. I think I may have learned something to improve my filling, though.

An 11-Stop Tour of Chinatown and Little Italy for Under $15 a Head

Doh! I mean a duck main dish, not a dumpling, obviously.


An 11-Stop Tour of Chinatown and Little Italy for Under $15 a Head

Looks like I'll be out there next month, and this might be an evening itinerary. Kenji, if you had to add a Chinese place for duck to this, what would it be?


Cream Potato Lefse From 'The New Midwestern Table'

I've eaten lefse for at least 60 years (they might have fed it to me when I was 2, which would make it 61). My grandmothers both made it, and there were/are plenty other locals who make it for sale in the the small Minnesota town I grew up in. (Don't tell the FDA!) I'll have some Christmas Eve and Christmas, but I'm also going to master this recipe so I can have it any time I want.

I like it with just butter, but I've never had much of a sweet tooth. Traditionally for us NorgioAmericans, it's butter and sugar, cinnamon-sugar, or some jelly--ideally lingonberry. Yes, I saw one of my grandmothers using a chopstick instead of a lefse stick. She'd been a missionary in China so it probably seemed self-evident to her. And we never ate them warm, but they're best at room temperature, though I've always seen them stored in the refrigerator, and we ate them cold as well. But room temperature is best in my book.

For me it's real comfort food, and I miss it 10 months of the year when it's hard to find, even in Minnesota. It's great with a hot bowl of Cream of Wheat or oatmeal in the morning.

What Do You Like to Drink With Oysters?

First choice is a dry, hoppy beer. Pilsner Urquell, for example.

Then Gin. Ice cold. Straight from the freezer is best.

Open Thread: Thanksgiving Disasters!

I'll never forget going to an in-law's mountain house in the Blue Ridge for Thanksgiving. We were invited down for Wednesday night, while the 20-30 other guests all arrived, from nearer by, on Thanksgiving. So we had a light dinner, some wine, a few Pilsner Urquells (we brought a case), and a Cuban cigar or two, while we laughed, prepped the two turkeys, oyster dressing, a huge ham, big sides for the next day, and generally had a great time. Late (thankfully) the next morning the ham went into the neighbors' oven for a long slow cook, and the turkeys into the oven. Then we sat down to breakfast. First thing we see in the fridge are the two jars of oysters that we somehow forgot to put into the oyster dressing. Not minutes later, we walked over to check the ham, just in time to prevent an ovenfire from a misread oven control. Only the four of us knew. One of the best Thanksgivings ever.

How to Grill-Roast a Boneless Bison Rib Roast


I for one, can't really taste the difference between the grass fed beef I've had, and the grain finished. Admittedly, the only grass-fed I've had were pot roasts, (both were gifts). Are grass fed roasts and steaks really distuinguiable by most folks?

How a New York Native Fell in Love with Chicago Hot Dogs

I don't get to either New York or Chicago as often as I used to, but I always thought the classic New York hot dog is served on my own personal yacht, the Staten Island ferry--kraut and mustard. Next is the Sabrett's on the street corner. Nathan's is next, or sometimes first, depending. The Chicago dog is too full of conflicting flavors and textures for my money. Though the Vienna Beef dogs themselves are great, tomato and pickle and whatever are just too much. The ferry and Sabrett's are great because you know they aren't high cost, gourmet dogs, they're inexpensive dogs done right

Poll: Are You a White Pie Person?

Years ago a friend who lived in Strasbourg took us to the Bourse , and said we were having white pizza. He ordered, we didn't even look at menus. Turns out on the menu it's "tarte flambee." I don't care what it's called, it's crust and cheese and other ingredients, roasted in a wood fired, high heat oven. It was magical stuff. I presume it still is.

The Burger Lab: How To Make Surf & Turf Burgers (Bacon- and Lobster-Topped Burgers)

@CulinaryConnie probably has it right. If you're having a party, and want something completely and inevitably useless, it is this burger. Burgers are good; lobsters are good. There is no reason to confuse them or combine them. Especially if bacon is needed to tie them together (which is to say the bacon taste overwhelms both). This is so wrong.

Ah, Kenji, did you have some Pat LaFrieda beef or some lobster you had to work with before it died?


The Hog Days of Summer: Tyson Ho's Whole Hog Barbecue in NYC

This seems to be the time to post this story. 40 years ago a friend near Waterford, Minnesota (a mile north of Northfield) had a party. He got in touch with the Waterford Meat Market to do a whole pig. Remember, Minnesota in the 70s was not your basic BBQ hotbed. Hell, its still not, and probably never will be.

What the folks at Waterford did, not just once, but a couple of times a year, was, it turns out, sous vide. They'd drop a huge nylon cutting board with lifting ropes into a livestock water tank, drop a 250 lb pig onto the cutting board, and fill the tank with salt water. They'd then keep the thing at 200 degrees for a week or even a couple of days more. Then they'd pull the board and the pig out of the tank, truck it to the party and carve away. Serve it on white bread buns, with cole slaw on the side. It's 40 years, and I still think it's the best pork I ever had.

Haven't had it since, and haven't ever heard or read about the technique.



Got a recipe for Chinese "Mantou?" That's it in Mandarin

Many, many thanks to you all. My 95-year-old-twin father and uncle (born and raised in China) will be real happy if I can get this right! They haven't had it since their mother died. Not to mention that I'll be twice-blessed: I get to make it for them, and eat it myself, after 55+ years.

Need help finding a red wine

Aw, just go ahead and buy some chaps, wear heels, and knock his socks off! Oh, a rioja will enhance the moment.

Better Ideas for "French Dip" Beef Sandwiches?

You may want to check in with Philippe's in LA, which is acknowledged as the originator. If you're far away enough, they might give you some tips.

I also like @onepercent99's thoughts. @Double_I is right about the difference between sous vide and roasting. But don't ever let anyone put cheese on a french dip!

Good Luck,

Should Cocktails Get Simple Again?

I first started 'tending in the early '70s, when the term "mixologist" was either satiric or demeaning. And rightfully so to this day. What these folks do (as witnessed by the previous post) is find new ways to sweeten drinks. They're soda jerks. BFD.

In my view a good 'tender should be like the guy who served me at Windows on the World back in '76. He mentioned he had 86 scotches behind the bar (an amazing number back then), so I asked what he thought I should have. He offered me an 104 proof Glen Farclas. It was eye opening (this was 3-5 years before the single malt marketing campaign began to work). You can tell that almost 40 years later, that's the 'tender I remember.

When I 'tended we did do some longer preparation drinks, but only if we had time, and only if we could make a show of it for the rest of the folks. So we flamed things, etc. We of course flamed the just-emptied bottle of Grand Marnier. I understand that. But housemade bitters, or tonic, etc. are completely unneeded and only cheat the customer, by unnecessarily raising prices. Once in the drink, no one can taste the difference. That's the truth. You can look it up.

Pizza Hut Canada Mixes it Up with Cheesy Beef Poutine and Creamy Butter Chicken Pizza

By experience, and then by definition, nothing at Pizza Hut can be less than a disaster. How do they stay in business? How's that work?

Pizza with Fresh Clams, Garlic, Mozzarella, Romano, and Basil

How do you make sure you're not adding sand to the pizza in the clam juice?

Sauced: Puttanesca

I once worked at a restaurant that served a version of Putanesca without the tomato sauce. Wish I could recreate it. I don't know what changed from one recipe to the other. Phyllis Richman, food critic at the Washington Post at the time, raved about it.

Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Chinese Takeout Order?

Steamed dumplings, hot and sour soup, kung pao or Gn'l Tso's chicken, mu shi rho, mapu dofu, any protein with ginger, any protein with snap peas, baby corn and all that. And sweet and sour pork for my food-wise unadventurous brother. (In fairness, I gotta add his adventures are far more adventurous than ethnic food.) If there's a hotness option, we're medium or medium plus on the Sichuan (sp?) scale.

I'm picking all that up for my father's 95th birthday party with relatives next Sunday, and taking it to the long-term care center. He was born and raised in China, and craves it.

Ask a Bartender: What's the First Bar You Ever Loved?

For St. Olaf College students it was Marguerite's (the sign said "A & M Bar," but Marguerite ran it). A mile-and-a-half south in Dundas, MN. A Ski-Ball game, schooners of Hamm's, and even some townies and farmers who liked college kids. In the daytime the place was theirs, though. We'd occasionally stop in, and act as invited guests. We'd watch the farmers string along the real estate developers down from Minneapolis who were buying drinks, and looking to buy land, and then shut'em down.

Chain Reaction: Pizza Hut's Crazy Cheesy Crust

Um, the telling thing of the post/review is that in slide 4 Niki says that like all Pizza Hut pizzas, it's "perfectly enjoyable." 'Nuff said about what we should learn about Niki's taste buds.


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