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aholsber

Crispy Buffalo Legs

If you are going to bake them, steam them first. Especially if they have the skin still on. This will reduce the amount of fat, splattering and tendency to smoke and burn before getting crispy.

I am planning on doing a batch of wings this way tomorrow.

ExChefInMA

Weekend Cook and Tell: Labor Day Barbecue

Didn't do anything too impressive, just fired up the smoker and smoked the following:

2 whole briskets
1 whole pork loin
~10lbs of chicken breast
2 racks of spareribs
~5lb of sausage

Sadly, the other 2 racks of ribs and ~10lbs of chicken thighs didn't make it into the smoker, next weekend.

Alan

Bento Help!

I use the Lock&Lock containers for my daughter when I make her a bento style lunch. I have yet to include rice in any of the meals that I send her to school with.

Typically, a bento lunch for her will be cold popcorn chicken, olives, sliced fruit, vegetable sticks, and some dipping sauce. She loves the idea of the individual portions of each. We have also done things like salmon salad, chicken salad. This week, she will have some smoked brisket and maybe some smoked chicken. As the weather gets colder, I will include a thermos of soup, or something else warm for her.

You don't need to stick to a traditional Japanese style bento lunch, the concept is a meal made of individual items.

As far as what to pack the containers into, we just picked up a LLBean lunch box to match her new school backpack.

The thing to remember is to enjoy it, make it fun for yourself.

Alan

What's in your kid's lunch bag?

Lately, I have been packing Bento style lunches for my daughter. She loves it, all of the different little packages of foods she enjoys.

The sandwich thing never really took off with her, but now and then she'll ask for one.

Another thing that she has been enjoying are the sunkist create your own tuna salad packages, comes with tuna, mayo, relish, crackers, a spoon and a mint.

With the Bento style lunches, I have been asked by numerous of her classmates parents about them and what sorts of things have worked well. It's amazing what a little creativity and about 15-20 minutes will come up with. When I send her with this style lunch, I try to get most of it done the night before so the morning is more relaxed.

Alan

Foodsavers--worth the investment?

I have been using my foodsaver so frequently, I had to buy a replacement after 4 years.

They are great, you can buy the rolls of bags at costco while you are buying your bulk packaged foods. The bags are great because once you get a feel for how big you need to store portioned food items, you will waste less.

I use the various canisters I have for storage and wet marinading, the bags for storage and dry marinading. You can also reheat in the bags (think sous vide), freeze in them.

I like being able to buy in bulk and not have to worry about things going off quickly. Think about all the things you buy that you didn't have time to use all of.

Alan

FoodSaver rolls in NYC?

I have been buying mine at costco.

Alan

lunch box lunches for 5 yr. old

As a novel thought, ask your grandson what he wants to bring.

During the summer my daughter (6 years old) goes to a day camp that doesn't provide food. I ask her most nights what she wants to bring. Some days it is salmon salad, others it chicken nugget bento box. As far as the comment about not making lunch a foodie experence, why shouldn't it be an experence?

During the school year, she brings lunch 2 to 3 times a week, some of the parents of her classmates have asked me about the lunches I send with her.

Alan

Let's talk knives

as a former professional chef, I recommend against buying "sets". most of them contain knives you will rarely if ever use.

best thing you can do is buy the pieces you need/use. you will want:

a chef's knife, preferably something with a full tang and riveted handle

a paring knife 3 to 4 inch blade

a utility knikfe like a santuko

a serated knife, i prefer an 8" offset myself. these are good for breads, various fruit including tomatoes.

with all of that said, the brands I recommend are Wustof and Shun, they are the best quality I have had the privillage of using. i still have the 10" chef's knife I bought after graduating culinary school back in 1989, still sharp enough to shave with.

Alan

Dinner Tonight: Miso-Glazed Flank Steak

You can reduce the salt level by cutt the amount of soy sauce and using a good rice wine to balance out the liquid ratio.

I will be making this soon.

Alan

What exactly is "slab" bacon?

Slab bacon is uncut bacon.

It is wonderful for many applications such as soups where you want a large dice of bacon in it.

I have found that it stores better this way as well. To use it all you need is a good sharp knife to slice it.

Alan

What's for dinner tonight?

Tonight I roasted some salmon and seabass, served with an asparagus and lemon ravioli and an heirloom tomato, fresh mozzerla salad.

Just a little something to feed the family.

Alan

Knife Brands

Having cooked professionaly for many years and being able to try out many different knives, my order of preference would be:

1 Shun
2 Wusftof

In my opinion these are the best made knives available. The Shun's D handle makes it a pleasure to work with for hours on end. The Wustof's ability to hold a sharp edge is unparalleled, I have a 10" chef's knife that I bought almost 20 years ago that is still sharp enought to shave with.

Alan

I don't go there, because I can't eat the food

If you know that you are going some where , you can always offer to bring something.

Funny story, my sister in law invited a bunch of family over for some holiday meal, her husband spent time outside burning chicken tips, and then using the same tongs that handled raw chicken, to cook the steak tips . After seeing this, I went inside and quietly whispered in my wife's ear not to eat the beef. Surprisingly, nobody got sick, but after that, when ever my wife's sister was inviting family over for holiday meals, I have done the "what would you like me to make?" thing, and in most cases, I wind up cooking the entire meal and everyone in the family is healthy and happy. Of course this is not the ultimate solution for most people, but considering that I used to cook professionally, it works out and again, the family is happy.

Alan

macaroni and cheese

When I make mac & cheese, I tend to make it with a veloute instead of a bechamel sauce, the cheese makes it creamy enough. I also tend to use variety of cheeses to get away from the boring american cheese.

Alan

What to do with 20 zested Lemons?

Juice them, fill ice cube trays and freeze. Then you will have portioned amounts of lemon juice to use in your cooking. Average Ice cube tray "cup" holds about 1oz.

Alan

Fondue Party

I keep threatening to have a fondue party. It would be a blast, but like with all of my parties, I would be supplying everything. Only because I like to control the quality of the food served.

As far as the meat, I would recommend getting sirloin, or maybe spring for some ribeye. The fat content will allow for greater flavor from the meat. Another good thing to do with the oil is to flavor it with fresh herbs, spring of rosemary, thyme, etc.

The invite was rather blatant in asking for the amount of things to bring.

Alan

HELP! I have 60lbs. of Venison...

josdean,

Where do you live? I'll come buy it from you that way, you don't have to be subjected to it. I miss being able to get fresh venison, most of the friends that I have that are hunters are several states away.

As far as preparation, I would use any good lamb recipe, as it is also a strong flavor. One of my favorite marinades for venison is red wine, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. You can tweak it with garlic, and other aromatics. I would also suggest either barding or larding it as venison is very lean.

Alan

Does anyone know a good chef's/cook's watch?

Having cooked professionally, the last thing that I wanted to wear while working was a watch.

Watch bands break, crystals get scratched/cracked, metal watches hold heat, plastic watches melt. The list goes on and on.

If he feels the need to have some sort of watch, look at pocket watches. If he is looking for timing stuff, then buy him a bunch of count down timers and a stopwatch.

Alan

Any of you have one of the Epicurean® Slate cutting boards?

I have one that I got a little over a year ago and have been using it daily. I have set pots right off of a flame on it, I have poured boiling water on it, have run it through the dishwasher on a sanitize setting. It has withstood all of that and comes back for more. I have used a lot of cutting boards over the years and this is about the best one that I have had.

With all of that said, there is one thing that I don't like about it, it has a tendancy to warp. But that is not really an issue, as I just flip it over. As a carving board it does leave a little to be desired, as the juices channel is very shallow.

If you have one, use it, if you don't have one, get it. I will most likely get a couple of smaller sized ones at some point.

Alan

Thanksgiving's over. What's on the table for Christmas?

The wife and I were just discussing Christmas last night. We are undecided if we are going to host or not.

If we do I think that I will use the following as a base for the menu, and then embellish as the date gets closer.

Roast Turkey, undecided if I will do a traditional brine or a dry brine.
Herbed mashed potatoes
Brussels's sprouts .
Stuffing/Dressing (had an interesting stuffing this past thanksgiving, that had cream cheese in it, might have to play around with this concept)
Gravy

Optional items:

smoked ham from local butcher (amazing ham!)
roast duck (last year did a roast duck with a port sauce)
Standing Rib Roast (house favorite when entertaining)
Second vegetable and starch to be named later.

Alan

Cooking sites for mobile browsers

Dave,

Check out www.slashfood.com and epicurious.com. I haven't been happy with the SE mobile site, can see topic lines, but not navigate into them.

Alan

"You made WHAT?"

I used to make a meal from leftover roasted chicken, some green and black olives, butter, leftover pasta and some parm cheese. It was great. At some point I'm going to make it for my daughter.

Honestly, just because you enjoy good food doesn't mean that it must be gourmet all of the time. My wife thinks that I spend too much time making fancy foods, she doesn't seem to understand that most dinners I make take less then 30 mins from start to table during the week.

I have found that the Bertolli Marinara with Burgundy is quite nice. I always keep a couple of jars in the house. Recently I used it as a base for a quick puttanesca style sauce which everyone in the house devoured.

Convenience foods are just that.

Alan

Science experiments

Emilydev,

One thing that you can do is plan your weekly menus.

Let's say that you want to have roast chicken for dinner tonight. You can buy a cut up roaster and freeze all but what you are going to eat tonight seperately so that you can pull pieces out and thaw/cook them as you want them. OR, you can roast the whole chicken tonight, then for tomorrow's lunch make chicken salad. And the following night's dinner, take some of the roasted chicken, and dress it with some tomato sauce and cheese to make chicken parm. And the next night make soup with the rest, get the idea?

There are so many things that you can do with a single ingredient as far as extending your budget and not being bored with leftovers. And yes, it is by far easier to talk about then to put into practice. I am the only one in my house that seems to eat leftovers, so I make less for each meal.

Alan

frozen turkey

PerkyMac,

That is a pretty standard way of thawing foods in restaurants. running cold, potable water over a frozen item. It is important that 2 things happen when doing this, 1 it is sealed against the water, and 2 the water keeps running at a trickle or you stand the chance of the water temp increasing into the dangerous zone.

love2cook,

Without knowing any more then "To thaw it I put it in my garage that i thought was cold enough to start thawing. It thawed quite a bit by the next day so I then put it in my fridge." I would be very concerned about serving it. And if the decision is made to cook and server it to others, disclose the fact of how it was thawed, let the guest decided if they wish to eat it.


Alan

Cheese crisps, prosciutto, and...?

A chiffonade of basil would work really well. Or maybe a couple drops of a basil infused oil. You don't want to over power the cheese or detract from the prosciutto.

Alan

What did you cook this weekend?

This past weekend included some entertaining for family from out of town. My parents and my wife's cousins from Montreal. All were here for a surprise b'day party for my MiL (her 65th).

I decided to make a dish that I know that my parents have never had before, so I set out to make Osso Buco something that I haven't made since culinary school. I bought 11lbs of shanks, got taken to the cleaners by the bucher shop, won't go there again, but it was a necessity situation.

At the last minute, we decided to invite my wife's cousin and his family to join us for dinner as I had made plenty.

While the Osso Buco was cooking, I also smoked 2 briskets.

What about you? What did you cook this weekend?

Alan

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