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what's missing in my ad hoc recipe for dinner tonight?

thanks for the comments everyone! and just in the nick of time...I just finished browning the pork like 15 minutes ago.

@jerzee....hm...think you're right about the sugar. got the bay leaf in there already.

also, carroway is a great idea. thanks!

Guacamole!

True. Unlike most, I prefer chunky guac over smooth, very lightly mixed so that everything is incorporated but there are still visible chunks of avocado in the mix. It's a texture thing. Also, and this is something I've learned from my brother-in-law, there's no such thing as too much lime juice. I like to finely mince my onion but keep large pieces of cored tomato. Proper seasoning is a big deal as well, although I've never run into problems with kosher salt.

Basia Coquum.....What's for dinner 3.9.2010?

Asian-inspired slaw dressed in a ginger, sriracha, lime, scallion, nam pla, sugar and sesame oil dressing. Served with udon noodles, topped with more scallions and cashews.

Guacamole!

Ha! I think you answered your own question, RJC. I'm a fan of fresh and simple as well, and I don't think garlic or cumin have any place in good guac.

I'm privileged to have some Mexican in-laws, and your recipe mirrors what I eat at their house almost exactly, sans chiles.

Sugar free jam - is it possible? If so, is it any good?

When you say sugar free, are you referring to sucrose or fructose?...because all fruit has a high sugar (fructose) content.

But you could make apple butter, maybe, since no sugar is added in that procedure.

Where can I find an oven brick?

Guess what an oven brick is? A brick! There's nothing scientific about the brick, there's no oven brick R and D staff working night and day to improve what is literally millennia-old technology. Go to your local hardware store and buy bricks to your hearts content. Or unglazed terracotta tiles. Or go to the thrift store and buy yourself a cast iron skillet. All these things are cheaper and work just as effectively.

Molten Lava Cakes

While restaurants don't always go the ganache route, it's certainly the easiest; when I worked pastry at the four star restaurant Suzanna Foo, that's what we did.

FYI ganache is a simple mixture of milk and chocolate, and you can make it quite easily in your microwave -- just be sure to heat the chocolate (with milk added) in small time increments. Chocolate burns easily! Also, bear in mind that chocolate melts at very low temperatures, so you don't need to heat the milk terribly much.

Generally, my ganache is 50/50 chocolate/milk, but ganache ain't rocket science -- have fun experimenting with it!

What to do with veal neck?

oh, and veal stock is the foundation of the mother sauce for all classical french sauces.

Udder!

Udder was eaten in ancient Rome. I've heard it described as faintly milky tasting, big surprise!

Kettner's Book of the Table, published in 1877, lists this recipe for a croquette wrapped in veal udder and oddly dubbed the Kromeski:

Croquettes are made of chicken, game, sweetbreads, fat livers, oysters, shrimps--and generally the lighter kinds of meat. The meat (most commonly chicken) is finely minced; it is mixed with a seasoning of minced truffles, mushrooms, shallots or chives, as also of nutmeg, pepper and salt; it is bound together with a stiff Allemande sauce; it is turned into shapes of cork or ball; it is dipped into egg and rolled in breadcrumbs; it is fried crisp of a golden hue; it is sprinkled with salt, and served on a napkin with a garnish of fried parsley. It is also served in a dish with a surrounding of tomato sauce. When the croquette if finished differently--that is, when, instead of being dipped in egg and rolled in breadcrumb, it is wrapped in a thin puff paste,-it is called a Rissole; and when it is wrapped in a thin sheet of veal udder or of bacon fat, it is called a Kromeski."

Here's another recipe, this one for roast tongue and udder, also published in the 19th century: http://www.foodreference.com/html/r-tongue-udder-1209.html

What to do with veal neck?

As far as I know, neck is most frequently used to make soup stock because it's cheap, relatively meatless, and has a high gelatin content, which gives a rich mouth feel to the stock without making it fatty.

Basically, just roast or brown the bones, add mirepoix, bay leaf, any other vegetables you have a yen for (leeks, mushrooms, garlic, etc.), and and cook as you would any other stock.

Serious Greek Yogurt: Making your own

You might want to invest in an electric blanket if you're doing this on a regular basis.

No-knead bread in smaller pots?

Bread baking in general is much more forgiving than most amateur bakers have been led to believe. Not only can you halve the recipe, you can divide it ad infinitum.

I recommend that you do as Ifyoucookit recommends, but as you get more comfortable with bread baking, start to experiment. All of us have made many mistakes -- it's how we learn, and how innovation happens in the kitchen. The beauty of bread is that it's so cheap as to be free, or near that. Your only major investment is time, and with no-knead bread, not even much of that.

Serious Greek Yogurt: Making your own

I've never actually done this, so I'll defer to the more practiced Seriouseaters out there, but I've been assured that yoghurt can be made using any live culture yoghurt.

When you've eaten most of a container, add to it a quart or so of milk heated to body temperature and maintain the started yoghurt at that temperature or at least room temperature for about ten hours, and voila, you've got more yoghurt.

Dinner theme: Childhood Classics for Grown Ups!?

chicken fingers! breaded cutlets are across the board delicious and feature in pretty much all major cuisines: katsu (japanese), schnitzel (german), chicken parmagian (italian), milanesa de pollo (Mexican).

Homemade cutlets are easy, cheap, and juicy. My all-time favorite is schnitzel with a squeeze of lemon and sides of potato salad and fresh cole slaw.

For the potato salad:
1 lb red potatoes cut into 1/3-1/2" dice
1/2 shallot, minced
3 cornichons, minced
1 tsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon or more butter
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

While boiling the potatoes, combine the remaining ingredients In a large mixing bowl. When the potatoes are cooked, drain, and add them, while still hot (very important@) to the dressing. It's best to let the salad sit for at least half an hour before eating.

For the cole slaw:
1/4 of a red cabbage, core and outer leaves removed, sliced fine
1 fennel bulb, core removed, sliced fine
1 tart apple (like Granny Smith), julienned
1/2 red onion, sliced fine or minced
juice of 1 lemon
drizzle of vegetable oil
teaspoon or more sugar
salt and pepper

Sake help!

@resolutejc: you're absolutely right that for truly in-depth critiques and comparisons of liquor, online is often better. That being said, it's common, in Brooklyn at least, to find truly knowledgeable employees. If my salesperson can describe a grouping of wines by taste, region, and personal preference succinctly and intelligently, then I'm comfortable trusting their choice.

i don't personally care to delve more deeply into the world of wins and sprits at this point – and I'm not entirely sure that it's tarahot's intention either – but all things considered, point taken.

What have you done for your food contribution?

i'm sorry, jerzee tomato and nhfoodie, but the idea that global warming doesn't exist just because it snowed a few times is one of the most insanely idiotic, ignorant things I've ever heard. What possible authority do you have to say, over the voices of literally thousands of scientists who have confirmed global warming -- over decades – that global warming doesn't exist? Oh, it snowed a couple of inches. Grow up and quit it with your flat world mentality. Your ignorance literally boggles the mind.

Chemical Taste in Baked Goods

@larikatz: good point! I was just on a course of antibiotics and things have been tasting strange for days.

I know this is a very, very long shot, but how humid is it where you live? I'm just thinking it's possible that your baking soda or salt, depending on humidity and the length of time you've had them, could be picking up moisture, and hence, odor, just like baking powder does in the refrigerator.

how much cream cheese is too much?

@gingercookwithme: ha, yes, this is a totally serious question. Making bagels 2 or 3 hours a day will get a person philosophizing about cream cheese right quick.

Hm...I'd say I typically put about 1/2-3/8" of CC on a bagel...lately just a schmear, though, and I don't see anyone asking for more cream cheese.

Sake help!

Probably the best option is to go to the best liquor or wine store you can find and just ask one of the employees to go over the sakes with you. I just did that at the liquor store in my neighborhood; the advice was clear, succinct, and more helpful than an online forum.

Wish I could remember what he the store clerk said now; I have no short term memory! whoops!

how much cream cheese is too much?

me too, Jerseygirl, and ha! no, I'm not using an ice cream scoop, although considering the amount you usually get in new york, that would seem to be the case.

Sake help!

Also, if you don't like it, you don't like it. I'm not sure that sake is necessarily an acquired taste. I don't know too many die-hard sake fans -- why bother cultivating taste in sake if you can't share your passion with others?...I know this point is debatable, but drinking is a social activity, after all.

Why not stick with something you can appreciate with others, like good wine, or scotch, or small-batch whiskey?

Sake help!

The first time I tried sake was in San Fransisco, where I was being hosted by a Tuvan throat singer/mead maker and a puppet artist. I was 19, an inexperienced drinker, and the hot sake went straight to my head. I think it was the exoticism of the moment, rather than the taste, that got me hooked.

Whats your favourite comfort food ?

Oops! Potatoes, not tomatoes.

Elusive watercress

Watercress grows year-round in streams, ponds, and marshes across the country. It's easy to identify, and when I wasn't living in New York I often went foraging for it in the woods near my house.

Whats your favourite comfort food ?

Hot Italian sausage roasted in the oven with peppers, onions and tomatoes. Cheap -- under five dollars when sausage is on sale – filling, and warming on a cold winter's day. Think I'll make some tonight!

how much cream cheese is too much?

Like I said in the previous bagel thread, I've cream-cheesed thousands of bagels at the coffee shop where I work in the past two years, and I often notice people scraping most of the cream cheese off of their bagels after they order.

How much cream cheese do you like on your bagel?

winter stew suggestions?

It's snowing, so I'm of course planning on making a nice hearty soup to watch with a movie tonight. I have a gallon of homemade chicken stock in the refrigerator. And no inspiration.
What's your favorite winter soup? Something hearty, warm, soul-satisfying. Supermarket's right across the street from my house, so no issues with picking up ingredients.

best seasoned nori brand?

So for the past several months I've been obsessed with nothing other than seasoned nori wrapped around plain white rice from the corner Chinese takeout. It's fast, satisfying, and cheap -- about 2 bucks for a ridiculously filling snack. If I'm feeling fancy I'll toss some cukes or scallion in with the rice.

Anyway, given the plethora of Korean-owned bodegas on my block, I've run into a lot of seasoned nori, and I'm wondering...what's your favorite brand, and why?

manti?

Well, I was totally excited to try manti for the first time this week after reading about them in Greg and Lucy Malouf's beautiful book, A Chef's Travels Through Turkey. Based on pictures in the book, I'd imagined manti to be like Middle Eastern potstickers: delicate dumplings with a minty lamb filling.

While still enjoyable, the manti I tried were very dense and chewy, with their flavor mostly overwhelmed by a tangy yoghurt sauce.

Since I have absolutely nothing to compare them to, I'm just wondering if my manti experience is typical in terms of consistency and flavor.

crazy post: making electricity (literally) with lasagna

In What Einstein Told His Cook, Robert Wolke explains that it is theoretically possible to make a battery using lasagna.

Briefly, tomato sauce perfectly conducts electricity between its container (a stainless steel hotel pan) and aluminum foil wrapping.

Are there any genius electricians out there with the know-how to turn theory into reality?

Can I use food to make electricity?

Could I possibly power, say, an electric blender, with a tray of lasagna?

Sripraphai going downhill?

I headed out to Sripraphai last week to celebrate my return to New York after two months. I was shocked to discover that my gold standard for Thai food has gone from best to mediocre. From the terrible service to the bland but servicable food...
Has anyone else found this to be the case, or was this (hopefully) a one time problem?...

and where else can I go that competes with Sripraphai at its best?

Favorite Winter Comfort Foods?

Well, it's cold out there, and getting colder, and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a movie and a big mug of tea and something hearty cooking on the stove or in the oven. I'm stuck in a rut, though -- lamb tagines, meatloaf and posole - and looking for some exciting new winter dishes.

What's your go-to winter dish -- the one you always crave in the long dark stretches of winter?

what to do with leftover masa?

After making nearly a hundred tamales for Thanksgiving, I still have tons of masa left over.

Has anyone used masa for recipes EXCLUDING tamale pie, homemade tortillas and sopes? I'm looking specifically for stews and soups incorporating masa.

Thanks!

making charcuterie in NYC?

So I'm obsessed with all things fermented. I've made cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, cucumber pickles and sourdough, and now I want to move on to charcuterie.

What kind of conditions would I need to age my meat, and is it possible in a stuffy fourth floor apartment in Brooklyn?

Also...any recommendations for classes?

Thanks all!

Best Tiki Bars in NYC?

I have a dream: A 50's glam catering hall with a kitsch-jungle theme. Hulu dancers and a Don Ho orchestra. Giant blue flaming drinks served in pineapples and big enough for three.

I've been on the hunt (admittedly a rather lazy hunt) for the past two years and all I've come up with is Zombie Hut. Although they set the bar on fire on request, I still haven't reconciled my dream tiki bar with reality.

Are there any truly fabulous Tiki bars out there?

Suggestions, please.

Why do some sourdoughs taste better a few days after baking?

I've been baking sourdoughs as much as time and travel permit for the past few years and I've noticed (when the loaf doesn't get gobbled up right away) that the complexity of taste increases in the bread over several days.

I've read about this happening with massive French peasant breads like miches, but I'd love an explanation of the chemistry behind this if there are any food scientists out there.

What's cooking off the beaten trail in Santa Fe, NM?

I just moved out to Santa Fe from Brooklyn. I love how regional and almost foreign the cuisine is out here, but red/green chile and sopaipillas are wearing me a bit thin, especially when the culinary wonders of the world have been just a train ride away from my apartment for so long.

So I'm looking for hidden culinary gems as far outside of the tourist circuit as possible. Road stands, food trucks, strip mall joints, and anything that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. What foods do you love here that I don't know about?

It's getting close to Christmas -- who does tamales the best out here?

I'm willing to try ANYTHING. ANYTHING...except cueritos. Yuck.

Serious Cheese: So You Want to Be a Cheesemonger...

"Even though that complexity can be intimidating, any one of these sources will make you better informed about cheese than the average bear." Let's talk about how to talk about cheese. [Photograph: cwbuecheler on Flickr] OK, so maybe you don't want to work the counter every day but you want to know at least enough to impress that cute monger at your local cheese shop. Or you just really want to be able to hold your own at the next cheese-and-beer event your friends are holding. Or you, like me, just happen to like knowing things (and no, this does not mean you're a know-it-all... much). While the best way to learn a heck of a lot about cheese is,... More