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Cedarglen

The Burger Lab: How to Make the Ultimate Patty Melt

Great method and a great looking sammich, dude.

What would you make?

What ever you make and take, make a little extra and be sure to offer a second serving to a few that might want it. Seconds are almost unheard of in places like that. What a nice thing to do for those folks...

chili

Yes! I would eat your chili! As many others have noted, chili is a very personal thing. You'll find your wings with some practice. Hang in there.

Seafood and Dairy: Way or No Way?

Some think it a felony, but I like a little good parm on my pasta with clam sauce! My kitchen, my plate, my food = my rules!

Not soggy sweet potato fries?

I soak in cold water overnight, then dry thoroughly before doing the double-fry method, plenty hot on the second fry.
Of note: Most "Sweet Potatoe" fries are not sweet potatoes at all, but red yams. Maybe "Yam fries" does not sound as good, but I like the flavor better. Good luck.

The Pieman's Craft: Making the Rooftop Red with Paulie Gee

Fun! He be The Man!!

Salt Lake City: The Copper Onion

@brownbag: An addendum: Of course, you graciously included Copper Onion's ebsite in your post; I missed it the first time around. Full menus are are available on their site.
Most of the lunch offering seem a little spendy, the the dinner menu is easily within reason. Since they are smack in the center of downtown SLC, thier rent must be substantial... When next in SLC, Copper Onion may be on the dinner list. Again, thanks for a nice review.

Salt Lake City: The Copper Onion

@brownbag. Thanks for posting an excellent review. The cut burger looks tasty, but that bun is a bit washed out. Maybe it is the light or, as you note, the lack of toasting. I'll have to pass on the shreddedd iceberg lettuce, classed as a 'white' veggie and best limited to the odd garnish. And as @jkdrummer notes, $12. (with cheddar) is a bit steep for a 4 Oz. lunch burger.
The fries look and sound good and I suspect that they are made in-house.
I know that this was an AHT-focused report, but I wonder about the rest of their menu. Are there any other interesting, well made items of note?
Thanks again for an excellent review. Hold the iceberg and I would munch in an instant.

Talk: Comment pending

For one, I've never had a comment held or 'pending moderation', even in recent months. OTOH, I rarely mention specific products and I'm darn sure not selling anything. Of course it can bne a problem on some sites, but I've never seen much abuse of the instant post practices in SE sites. Most folks ashere to the very simple rules and their notes are posted almost as fast as recieved.
Note: If anyone does see a blatantly commercial post in ANY SE forum, please share your thoughts with the management. They DO pay close attention to this stuff. (With ,) If some product is worthly of promotion, the SE folks want tp promote it, but also collect some revenue. This is not an unreasonable policy as SE has substantial costs. Still, advertising as review is bad policy and I think they are as careful as they can be about this stuff. I read a lot of SE reviews (as fun). It is very rare to see comments or reviews that are promotions. WIthin the long leash, I trust the folks at SE to be honest in their reviews. I think they are.
If they accept advertisong revenue from McD's, and continue to trash them, they are doing just fine. (I hate the ads, I dislike McD's business model, but their right to speak to us - **for a price** - is the suppeoting basis for the SE and associated websites. We pay no subscription or other fees and the content is available to everyone. SE manages to support a truly professional staff and they do it by selling a few ads.

That said, I guess it is fair to suggest that the principal staff's focus has been on their book, not their website, in recent months. Mixed feelings about this, but I note an obvious lack of original content from the SE principals. The exception is our fiid science friend Kenji. Awsome posts!

In the end, I suspect the SE organization is suffering their way through some serious growth pains. They have become professionals, if fighting and screaming all the way, but they do not yet understand that. They want to publish a new book, and while the website suffers. SE has a loyal following, but new membenrs/readers may be reserved.
SE has taken a few steps to improve their web presentation, but if they paid some serious attention, they could do a whole lot better. Currently, there are too many layers and they are difficult to navigate. The SE technical folks can do a whole lot better. For the moment, I suspect that they are spending a whole lot on travel and eating, in suport of their pending book. Get it done, close it and publish the darn thing, - OR get back to regular, daily, fresh posts about Serious Eating...
I think that my (our) cords have been yanked a bit too long. More viable content is of more value than a book. It may be a great book and a fun read, but it will be stale before it hits the shelf. Fifty percent of the very best eatry spots just close within a year or so. Printed guides, especially national, are almost silly. The real and valuable information is on-line and from sources like SE.
Bring the staff home, regroup a bit and travel only when the suspect food warrants a try, not to make a stale book. Pretty please?
Good Heavens, If the website is the primary revenue source, make it your priority. Make the technical stuff work better and make new material easy to spot. Having to use Google to seach you site does work better, but it should not be necessary. Come on folks... If you want to play if the big leagues, make your site(s) look better and function a lot better. Pretty Please...

Many other frequent readers have thoughts. Posts from the many regulars are regular and welcome, but a few must post a second time to correct the odd error. (I don't bother, if the content is clear and complete.) Why cannot we have a spell checker and some editing function on this website? Please, SE managers, come into the current era. You really CAN do a lot better.
In the end, I think you are using a lot of SE-based funds to flit about the country in support of your book. It will be stale before it is published, but I will proabably but it, anyway. Please, get back to the basics of your wonderful website and stop making excuses. SE, SLICE, and AHT are valuable and entertaining stops, but only when they include a LOT of new material and every single day.
With no wish to offend my honored friends, this web reader expectes a lot more from you than excuses about some book. Please, have a second look at your priorities and then: Fix the website, and improve the content.
With love and respect,
-Cedarglen

--If I have to say so, you CAN do a whole lot better...

How do you boil your eggs?

An Addendum: Perhaps I've never learned the proper method out of some fear: 25+ years ago I put on a pot of eggs to boil and fell asleep. When I was awakened by neighbors, the stench and smoke were awful and the pot had to bne trashed. An awful experience.
Someplace in the mix, I inherited my paternal grandmother's (Sunbeam?) egg cooker, probably made in the late 40s and that traveled the world with them in the late 40s and much of the 50s. A small appliance, but well made of heavy AL, it is boil-dry cooker, much like today's rice cookers. Inside the cover is a spike the pierces the shell, a noce litte rack to hold up to five eggs. There is also a 4-portion 'poaching' pan than can replace the rack, but it is a bitch to clean. In the original, the lid's handle was a plastic measuring jig for water volumes to cook soft, medium and hard eggs. I saw it as a kid, but it was long gone before I got the device. The inside if the lid is also calibrated for the necessary water volumes.
I ihave not used it for a couple of years, but it is still around here, someplace. The darn thing works and very well. It is one of those old, immediate post-war devices that was made with substantial measures of metal, quality heating components and designed to last a lifetime or more. Save the top handle/measuring cup, it has, and for more than one lifetime. (Grandma made it to 103 and used the egg cooker well into her last year.) It is around here, someplace and I will use it again.
I'm not a fan of the Soft Boiled Egg. Period. When I use this little treasure, I include enough water such that it will boil dry and shut off at the Hard Boiled stage. A bit less water is a good thing. Still, boiled eggs can be a bitch to peel and I have yet to find a method that really works. And that... is my two cent's worth.

How do you boil your eggs?

This has always been a challenge for me. I'll look up Kenji's method in a few minutes.
I've heard the debates about piercing the shells, use older eggs v. new ones and the like.
At least fo rhte moment, I start with cold (tap) water to cover the eggs, raise to boil and remove, w/cover for timed 12 minutes, then drain and flush with huge amounts of cold water until thoroughly chilled. (My domestic water is VERY cold.) The short (?) cook and fast chill seems to have eliminated that Green Ring on the yolks, but the eggs are still a bitch to peel.
I once saw a Deli Cook peel her cooked eggs by vigerously shaking the pan with a small amount of water, but I've never been able to make that work - and I have the large, deep sink to accommodate the process.
In short, I have no clue...
30+ years ago I encountered a commercial, frozen HB Egg product, to be thawed and sliced. As I recall, they put whole eggs into a closed, spinning tube and 'blanched' them until cooked. I have not seen this product for years, but it was pretty good, if a bit spendy.
I'm watching for more ideas on the peeling process and I will read Kenji's notes on the subject.
WHile I do not use HB eggs often, I do like the form. They remain troublesome for me, even with a timer that I can hear.

Dinner Tonight: Deviled Ham Salad Sandwiches

Oh , My. Another one of those... Sooner or later, we all eat the stuff, but few like to admit it in public. It is a reasonable use for that last bit of a good ham, but I don't go out of my wat to make it if other choices are available.
I would never ordere 'Ham Salad" anything in an eatry, because they make it they same way we do: Efficient use of leftovers. While a nice variation on a stantard theme, I am gooing to pass on this one. Thanks for the worthy presentation.

Brunswick Stew, Hush Puppies, and Hash: Sides on the Carolina Barbecue Trail

Oh! Gosh! Thanks for a wonderful review. I made Allen & Sons a few years ago and truly enjoyed the experiece. Their 'grub' and nearly everything else in that quadrant of Amerika is wonderful beyond description. Pig meat has flavor and those folks know how to pull the very best from the original (puns or naught). In any Southern eating tour, the smaller the better, and eat early and the best places simply close when the primary meat is sold out.
If I have a single reservation about this blast of regional excellence, it is their bent for combining foods that can so easily stand on their own. The best example is globbing some slaw on top of an otherwise perfect pulled port 'sammich.' The slaw is every bit as good as the long smoked pork and worthy it its own right. I'll take my hefty serving on the side, please. Their are few veggie folks in BBQ and Pig Country and we now know why!

Video: 'Nightline' on Carl's Jr.'s Footlong Cheeseburger

All of these require a 40-50 mile drive, but even if next door I would pass. I'm beginning to wonder of SE and related sites are still interested in REAL Food, or have sold-out to the fast food chains. They sure seem to get a lot of play in these spaces...

Bread Baking: Caramel Apple Bread

Thanks Donna. A very impressive loaf. I'll try this one in a couple of weeks.

My Pie Monday: BiereBeer's Thursday Night Pizza

Nice looking pie and 'happy' looking dough. Sorry about the burn my friend, but if cook/bake, burns happen.

Reality Check: A&W BBQ Bacon Crunch

When you wonder why the root beer is the only thing worth ordering, remember that A&W belongs to Yum Brands. Who is that? Think Taco Bell and KFC. PASS!

Teresa Lewis, 4-26-69 to 9-23-2010 Death Row Last Meal

I do not find any of this funny. As one who worked in prisons/jails for a number of years, (though not in food service or corrections) I easily understand my a condemed person may want simple Comfort Foods: Basic prison food sucks! Rremember that Iranian dude who bought food stuffs for Oregon's prisons? He gladly bought green ham and out-dated goods, pocketing big kick-backs, until he fled back to Iran. He may have made the headlines for a while, but he is damn sure not the only one. Inmate meals and - absolutely - the least cost option that will meet some minimal standard. If a condemed man or woman wants a 'real' pizza or some 'real' fried chicken, it is becasue they have not seen those substances, even as an option for 10,15, or 20+ years. While sub-standard food may be an informal part of the Punishment Process, prison food sucks. I suspect that most of those who have spouted their thoughts here have never seen a routine prison inmate menu - or the miserable result of said menu. They enerally run in two or three week cycles and change is rare, save some 'good buy' on nearly spoiled green-sheen cold cuts. Eat that three times a day for 20 years and a couple of pieces of freshly fried chicken - and a Dr. Pepper, might look pretty damn good.

How long is too long of a wait for an online frozen food order?

You can buy excellent quality meats in Seattle, Good Heavens! You may pay a dear price for some things, but it will be fresh and of first-rate quality. If frozen steak from the East or Mid-west is your standard, goforit, but... And those prices are gawd-awful.
For a starter in Seattle, check out one of the Larry's Markets and have a talk with the store's meat manager. He'll tell you where the meat comes from and how it is grown. Good meat is not inexpensive, but I;m sure that you can do far better than frozen steaks via FedEx etc.
As an aside, some recent posters to one of these sections mentioned buying frozen seafoods via the net. I checked the cited website and read some of the fine print. Horrifying, to say the least! Some very nice looking salmon - at $25+ the pound, turned out to be FARMED salmon from Chile. Once can buy far better FARMED salmon, fresh, at Costco, for about 25% (Or less). Hell, even wild-caught fresh salmon does not cost $25 a pound in Seattle - even the very best fish!
For Gawd's sake, good fellow, learn to buy local!

Is eating Organic Food worth spending double the money?

As usual, I'm mostly with dbcurrie. As currrently used, "Organic" is virtually meaningless, so to answer the original question, a resounding NO!
I think it afar more important to know your suppiers when possible and know what you are buying. Of course, all produce gets washed and meat products are properly stored and cooked. I eat a lot of seafood and it is often difficult to judge, but I compensate by buying frozen/bulk a lot of the time. (Very little of the 'fresh' fish at retail is really 'fresh' as in never having been frozen; they're using the same stuff that I buy a frozen!)
Lastly, since I live in a very small community that includes a lot of forlks who have had an "Organic" focus for many years, it is always a topic of conversation. Our small food buyer's coop has an organic focus, but the prices are often outageous and the quality sub-standard.
Until the "Organic" standards become standard and can be enforced, I think it is usually a waste of money.

Should the skin be removed from chicken before or after cooking?

I remove the skin after cooking, with my teeth and including a nice bite of meat as well.

Autumn is here! What is your favorite apple?

Around here, it is almost anthing that is sour, tasty and crisp. Braeburns and Mc's are among the favorites. A few folks have some very old trees in their orchards and they are not quite sure of the species. Crisp and on the sour side sure works for me. I take what I am offered (gifted) and I am very greateful. Those that I do not eat or cook instantly, usually get a very light (minimal) process and then frozen in quarters or 8ths, typicall for some kind of cooked/baked use within 3 months. Returning a few apple-laden baked goods tends to keep my options open for the next season. On the whole, this has been a very poor season around here, both for tree fruits and for garden goods. Just a poor year.

Is This Food?

Wait about a year and this $625 book set will be in the remainder stores for $25-$50. Check out Edward R. Hamilton, bookseller.

Washington, D.C.: Logan Tavern

I guess I'm going with @demnellyfull about mounds of salad on good burgers = bad idea, but then s/he adds them back in. Whoops!

Great pix and a great description of a better+ burger. For my Mouth Feel, is is about...
The meat, cooked as ordered
A decent bun, one that is FRESH
A bit of flavorful cheese
Period.
When served a burger plate that includes salad makings, I have a salad and I eat it, as a side. My mouth like all of the usual ingredients, but not usually inside the burger.
Three things I never want to see on a burger:
1. Warm, dead, mealy tomato
2. Ketchup, in any form
3. Warm, dead (or worse) chopped Iceburg lettuce
OK, I lied - FOUR Things...
4. Bacon. Make no mistake, I love good bacon! Just not on a burger.

Happy munching to all.

The Pizza Lab: How Long Should I Let My Dough Cold Ferment?

@Kenji, Thanks for another great one, our friend! While perhaps stretching to silly at times, your research reports are great fun, very informative and (I suspect) of great help to very many SE readers. Thank you, sir!

Personal observations/practices with cold fermentation:
It helps nearly any dough, not just pizza or sour dough breads, develop their greatest flavor potential. I agree with Kenji and several posters that when using the long, cold fermentation method (1-3 days typical), less yeast is necessary. It mulltiplies and will make more than enough future generations to do the job.
Some doughs benefit from a little sweet (sugar or honey) and some do not. It is about the flavor of the finished product, not sacred rules (Duh?).

Around here, there is usually some modest amount of dough in the fridge, aged from hours to 5 days. For exactly Kenji's cited reasons, five days is about the max. Funny/strange, most of it vanishes long before that point is reached. Nearly any dough that has been cold fermented for 18-24 hours is a great 'bench trainning dough' for folks learning to shape breads, rolls or pies; it has matured enough to 'feel' like good dough and it is a pleasant, cloud-like thing to work with.

Lastly, if a hunk of dough is approaching the 5-ish limit and one does not want pizza, Make Something Else! A mature, tasty dough and easy to shape and yes, even plain, un-enriched doughs make excellent mini-loaves or dinner roll shapes. Waste no dough...

One thing that I have not tried - yet - is to incorporate that scrap of age-limited dough into a new batch. The practice is one of several sour dough methods, is it not? I guess most of the old dough into new dough methods use younger 'old' dough, say 24-36 hours, but I may give it a try.

Happy Serious Eating to all. Apply the taste test to everything and adjust formulas and methods to results, not debates....

Self-Service Check-Out Registers

In another section, SE reader jo_wang mentioned using those self-service check-out registers that a popping up in a lot of grocery (and other) stores. Do you use them? Or not? What do you think about them.
Personally, I am not a great fan (How about: They Suck?) I've had some bad experiences. I never use them if I have any produce of by weight items. If my order is only a few packaged items, maybe in a pinch, but I do not like them. Please share your thoughts.

Does Anyone Suspect a few Ringers?

The several TALK sections of SE's website are genuine fun and often very informative to read. That said, I often have the feeling that a very few posters/posers of open questions are ringers for SE's management and intended to stimulate site traffic. I won't mention any names/handles, but am I the only one who wonders about some of these posts? (Note to management: I do not know that this is the case, but of it is, knock it off! It is a slime practice and SE des not really need it. If the suspect posts are not seeded by managegmet, my sincere apologies. A few just don't quite pass the trusty smell test.

The Genuine Critics?

I often read eatery reviews, from slop joints to the ocassional Four Stars awarded by the NYT and others. Fun reading, to be sure. That said, what job could be more difficult? A demanding schedule, the fight for reservations, keeping accurate notes, multiple visits and doing one's very honest best to remain objective. An awsome responsibility.
I take much of this from the NYT reviewers, currently the the able plate of Sam Sifton.
Some questions that I've asked (and that the NYT won't answer);
1. How on earth does Sam manage to remain "Under Cover" as he makes is visits?
2. An effective reviewer generally dines with a party, typically four, perhaps more and there is a whole lot of bite and plate sharing. How do they disguize this?
3. Most of the published NYT reviews include 6-10 great pictures. How do they get them, without giving away their purpose/ Casual diners do not photograph the house and every plate served! Get a grip! Even independant SE contributors cannot get away with this one!
4. Think a bit before responding here... The NYT editors refuse to respond to this pointed question: How much $$$ does NYT allocate for Mr. Sifton's annual or monthly dining budget? (it must be substantail, sunce he visits multiple times and usually hosts a modest group.
5. Perhaps redundant, but how on earth does he (do they) keep their primary purpose hidden from the staff?

I'd love to hear from those who really know. If you are guessing, please say so. Thanks!

More on Baking Stones - Help!!

Before I begin, I HAVE read as much of the older material as I could find. I've tried some quarry tile, with mixed results. The idea is 3-fold: Pizza, free-formed bread and a massive heat synch to help stablize a nasty oven. I'm perfectly OK with a full hour of preheating.
Does anyone have any experience with FibraMent stones? their site is www.bakingstone.com. They are more than a bit spendy, but they will also cut to size for a $10. fee.
My idea is to custom cut to 16.5" x 11.5" to fit in a standard, (heavy gauge) half-sheet pan. Easier to contain and manage. Their slightly larger stock size just does not seem to provide enough air circulation space. Standard thickness is 0.75". I'm thinking about 1" or even more, to get more heat synch MASS.
Specific experience with this company & product, as well as other suggestions - all are welcome. I know about quarry tile, but not enough mass and is slides around too much. Short of custom cutting, no available size will fit the standard pan.
And before I forget, Thank you to the SE folks! One darn nice website and a great set of regulars. Food blogs are cheap, but SE is a serious site. Great job folks!

Boneless Short Ribs - Tested Ideas, Please...

I got really lucky, I guess. I got some luscious-looking boneless Beef Short Ribs. They have great potential, but I've realized that I have no clue, other tha slow-roasting. I can do better than that. Well-tested suggestions are most welcome. I'm willing to consider a broth and veggie braise, a slow-cooker method or anything in between. There are thousands of recipes out there, but I'd like to try something that a SE reader knows and swears by, from personal experience. These are beautiful cuts; I;ve got enough for three trials, each enough to serve two or three. Traditional Amerikan, Asian influence or almost anything else is welcome. We are a bit reluctant with Indian or curry, but anything else is good to go. I'll be watching and thanks to all for the suggestions.
-Cedarglen

Just an Idea to Consider

Recently, Frank Bruni of the New York Times wrote a great atricle about General Tso's (whatever protien) focused on bass. He told a wonderful story about an eatery that will gladly cook your own fish, brought in whole or filleted. He talked about a Three-Fry method and the difficulty of 'Sausing' the cooked fish without turning it into "Fish-flavored toothpaste." His points are well taken and it really is difficult to finish fish dishes like this without breaking up the individual chunks.

His article and the stylist's photograph triggered and old memory that is worth sharing.

First, a mound of steamed brocolli bits is there for a specific purpose, not just as a filler. The brocolli may be eaten (perhaps should be) but each to his own. It goes like this:

Cook the fish with the three-fry method that Mr. Bruni mentions, always being gentle with it. Drain and reserve. Steam the brocolli to a tad under done. (If holding for more than a few minutes, cold shock and reheat.) With fish and brocolli warm, make the sauce - but make it just a tad on the thin side. Assemble the serving platter with lots of warm brocolli as the first layer. gently add the thrice-cooked fish and then slowly drizzle the very hot sauce over the entire stack. If drizzled with care, every bit of fish gets a coating and the brocolli serves as a filter to keep it from getting soggy. Serve with a slotted spoon so that guests can take as much or as little brocolli and sauce as desired. Some leftover sauce and brocolli is expected - but maybe not. A decent rice is an expected given.

This dual purpose method can be used for serving many very fragile fried items and well ebyond fish. Simply a 'strainer' veggie on the bottom and a drizzled sauce, rather than a tossed one. Keep everythnig warm and hot and serve instantly. It keeps the fish from falling into Frank's 'toothpaste,' and it works.
Cedarglen

NYC's Letter Grading

Hi Foodies and Editorial Staff,
At 2500 miles away, I'm not a New Yorker so I have to ask you folks to comment: What do Serious Eaters and Foodies think about the new Letter-Graded eatery scale in your fair city?
Of course, most decent places will do whatever is necessary to achieve the "A" mark. Would you eat in a "B" house? A "C" house?
Let's talk about this. Share some thoughts. THe SE Editorial staff should weigh-in as well.

FWIW, many years ago I lived and ate in a community that had a similar grading and posting ordanance. As I recall, after the first year or so, there were no "B" or "C" eateries. Your experiences?
I look forward to reading some meaningful comments and thanks to all...

-Cedarglen
P.S. Where is now live, in the wilds of rural Oregon, this would be a relly funny joke. The nearest sit-down eatery is about 30 miles (one way). Around here, if one wants to eat well, one plans weeks in advance, shops with care during the monthly grocery run and learns to cook a lot of interesting stuff. More than one attempt has hit the compost pile, but are pretty darn good. It is fun. Cg.

Semi-Copy of Beef Bowl?

WIth no shame, I am a big fan of The Yosh... small chain and their basic Beef Bowl meal. I need some help...
I've got the rice covered.
For the beef, I use super-thin sliced chuck - It works.
Onions and garlic are - Onions and garlic.
Sadly, I have no clue about the broth mixutre in which the beef and onions are simmered. Dashi this and Dashi that, I am still missing some important flavors.
What can I say? I like this stuff, but the nearest store is about 800 miles away. I want to make it at home. Any and all ideas are welcome. Thank you.

Cedarglen
-replies to cedargln@casco.net if possible.