As the name suggests, I strive for fine wine and fine dining, but that doesn't necessarily mean expensive. In fact, it's often the simplest things that are the most delicious.

  • Location: Central NJ
  • Favorite foods: Chocolate, cheese and wine can send shivers down my spine. So can anything that I've never heard of - it's all about the quest!
  • Last bite on earth: Not sure - am I coming back to Earth? Or are we talking the Great Beyond? Either way, I'm sure it would be something decadent that would give me a tummy ache if I ate too much. Or not. I'm moody.

Another "dealbreaker" poll: s/he doesn't care for good food?!

@MissBrownEyes - please reread my comment. At NO POINT did I suggest that a person be FORCED TO BREAK OUT OF THEIR SHELL. In fact, I strongly suggested taking baby steps. Perhaps you should carefully read a person's comment before rushing to criticize them.

Another "dealbreaker" poll: s/he doesn't care for good food?!

I see it as a great challenge!!

Baby steps are important here. Start with what he knows (ie. McD's) and slowly move to other types within that class (ie. homemade Kenji-style burgers). Start within his comfort zone, and you should be able to expand from there.

anyone decorate the side of a cake with M&Ms?

When I was growing up, our neighbor would make an angel food cake for our birthdays, and patchwork frost it (different flavors) and cover certain sections with M&Ms. It would be a trainwreck. I found out later that she was (is) schizophrenic. It's kind of a stigma for me now, so I would have to vote for keeping the candy off the cake.

Does this sound too disgusting to eat?

Way, way tame. Now, if you wanted to do a PB&J pasta sauce with a crispy fried onion garnish...

SE reusable shopping bag question

@db - lol! I have many tradeshow-harvested canvas bags from my short stint in the front-end pharma industry...promoting an incontinence drug and an erectile dysfunction device (unfortunately, not a joke). It would be nice to get looks of approval from fellow shoppers instead of omg-what's-wrong-with-her looks from people in the know about those particular drugs.

Ranking of grocery stores in seafood sustainability

Funny, I just saw a sustainable fish chart at Wegman's earlier this week - I SWEAR they monitor blogs to react to trends. Kudos to Danny Wegman!

How Do You Cut Your Pizza?

I use a wheel or chef's knife, but I've heard of using shears - doesn't that get messy? And lifting the pizza?

How do you avoid buying too much food so you don't waste it?

I plan multiple meals around an ingredient if I think I'll have lots of it. And I do eat a LOT of leftovers because my husband 'doesn't believe in them' - whatever that means.

Grilling: Cubanos

Mmmmmm...that looks awesome! I've grilled cubanos with McClure's spicy pickles and weighted with a cast iron pan instead of a brick.

The Nasty Bits: Pigs' Feet

@villas2000 - I totally agree with your last comment...I felt every moment of Chichi Wang's horrible self-butchering.

Glad you're almost healed!

The Food Lab: Homemade Greek-American Lamb Gyros

This makes me miss beef and lamb...I remember the crispy bits - the alchemy of meat:bread:sauce...mouth watering...

10 Ways to Not Lose Your Mind at a Wine Tasting

Love that wine necklace!

Can I add #11? Take your time. Don't just sip the wine and move on to the next one - take a moment to contemplate it.

With that said, I admit I'm a hypocrite :-0

Pizza Tastes Better with Cooked Sauce!

Why is cooking a sauce the same thing as ketchup? Isn't there vinegar in ketchup? And lots of sugar? What kind of ketchup r u eating, Lou?

Using real mint to make mint chocolate chip ice cream

How odd that I immediately assumed real mint and mint flavored ice cream would be completely different...not sure what that means, but now I want to try real mint ice cream via a cold infusion method.

Sick of Website Promoters, Shills and Trolls!

I promise to NEVER link to my fact, I promise to never START a blog. I tend to ignore these blatant 'blog promoters' (I don't know the difference between a shill and a troll).

@Alaina, how about:

...Do offer suggestions/feedback
...Do feel free to jump right in

There are a number of "lurkers" out there that don't have a hidden agenda, but may feel intimidated to post; their opinions and thoughts are just as valid as ours.

Video: McDonald's Recent Gay-Themed Ad in France

I think the ad's very well done.

@myinnerfatty - I think the commercial's relatively new, so their 'come as you are' may also be a new trend - maybe you can take your nekkid bod into McD's tomorrow? ;-P

Braided Armenian String Cheese


Video: How To Make Root Beer

We did this in high school biology. The yeast took a left turn instead of a right turn....yadayadayada...we all really wanted to drink it, but the teacher confiscated it (and promptly disappeared into the teacher's lounge with it)

What to Do with Cocoa Nibs

I like cocoa nibs, but have a hard time getting past the pieces-may-be-stuck-in-my-teeth-and-people-aren't-saying-anything fear.

And I can't believe POM and dm haven't chimed in yet...

Pizza Tastes Better with Cooked Sauce!

Lately, I've been using crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce straight from the can. Nothing but tomato and salt flavors.

@McNormal - I think you posted something about using tomato paste many moons ago, and I've been thinking of it ever since. Maybe that'll be my next pizza...

Basil is at its best -- what to do?

I'll second the nomination for putting it on a sandwich. Also, have you tried frying the leaves? They're a great shatter-y garnish. Or add to any salad.

I need a great vinaigrette recipe

I love homemade dressings - I play with different vinegars and citrus fruits depending on what it's being served with. I also use walnut oil instead of olive oil.

Beer Can Duck

@soozm32 - you stole my thunder! I was going to ask what wine can do. :-)

Maybe if beer can duck, wine can goose!!

Anyone watching 'Hell's Kitchen' this season? (Way or No Way?)

I'm a NoWay. I watched the first season, then it became all about the drama and entertainment. Cooking was the unfortunate setting that never got its fair props.

when no one is looking

Chips & salsa. And chocolate anything.

Uses for Seedless Black Raspberry Preserves

I received a jar of seedless black raspberry preserves as a gift, and other than slathered on toast or pancakes (which is quite yummy), I'm not sure what to do with it. I don't want it to hang around forever - does anyone have creative uses for this?

Opinions on microwave drawer??

A contractor this weekend told us about a microwave drawer - a microwave that's mounted in a base cabinet, and the opening is on top, rather than on the side like all other types.

I'm really intrigued because:
1. Range microwaves get greasy from stove splatter no matter how often they're cleaned
2. Would save on counter space
3. Can't do prep work under my existing under-the-wall-cabinet unit 'cause it sticks out so far

Anyone have experience with this microwave drawer? I found one on Sharp's site:


Pho Failure??

An excerpt from my mother's email last night:

I made Pho soup last night and the Pho noodles that we bought were all wrong. I don't know what they're for - but not for soup. There were no directions, I guess you were supposed to know how to use them. I boiled them and they turned to glue. They were real gelatinous and you could stretch them like silly putty. Really gross!! They all stuck together, too so you couldn't put them in soup since it turned into one solid jelly-like glob of glue. I even tried putting a bit of oil on them to separate them but it didn't work. Fortunately, I had a package of Chinese noodles so I used them instead.

I was with her when she bought the noodles (Asian supermarket, Piscataway), and there were several noodle packages that said Pho on them (but no English anywhere on the bags). Can anyone troubleshoot this for me? I've never made pho, so I don't know if the noodles were supposed to be cooked or soaked. The ones she bought were opaque, not like cellophane noodles, and slightly thicker than spaghetti.

Grilling veggie burgers

It's (about!) time to bust out our grill for the season, and I wanted to try homemade veggie burgers. Anyone have a recipe for homemade veggie burgers that won't fall apart on the grill?

Ready to open that wine you've been saving?

This Saturday (Feb 27) is Open That Bottle Night - the night to finally uncork that bottle of wine you've been saving for a "special occasion". OTBN is that occasion!

Last year was the first time we celebrated - we had an unusual Canadian Ice Wine that I paired with an apple galette. This year may be an Amarone paired with idontknowwhatyet.

What's your "special occasion" wine, and what would you pair it with for this auspicious event?

Help! Clumpy Shallot Salt!

I got a sample of Shallot salt (sea salt, powdered shallots, magnesium carbonate) from Penzeys over the summer - loved it! But...since I was using it in humid weather, it clumped up into one big mass. I put a couple of silica packs in the jar to dessicate it, but it hasn't helped.

Anyone else ever have this problem, and can the salt be salvaged?

Homemade grenadine??

I bought grenadine tonight and was really disheartened by the ingredient list - there's got to be something better tasting out there! Does anyone have any homemade grenadine recipes that they would share?

BTW, I'm using it to make hurricanes, so if anyone has any tips or recipes for that, I'd love to hear it!

Help with Epicurious Snowball Cookies

I've got Snowballs on my short list for holiday baking this season, but per the comments, some people have had problems with the chocolate weeping through the coconut. So for all those experienced bakers and chemists out there - could I circumvent this problem by adding a bit of Cream of Tartar?

And if not...any suggestions?

C is for Christmas Cookie!

The Christmas Cookie season has officially begun! Drop, rolled, sliced...chocolate, vanilla, mint...frosted, piped, dusted...what's at the top of your holiday cookie baking list?

Finding Kvass & Eastern Euro foods in NJ/NY area

A friend of mine traveled to Russia and was telling me about the foods over there including kvass - a drink made from rye bread and very lightly fermented (less than beer). She liked it, much to my surprise after hearing the description (I'm intrigued now!) I'd love to find kvass and other Russian foods here for her, but don't have a clue where to start - I can't find any Russian or Eastern European foodstores in the area...and I already searched the internet for NY/NJ areas. Can anyone help?

Corn-rich diet vs. rice-rich diet

I've been pondering Carey Jones' 2-week foray into a corn-free diet (here and here) for a while, and hearing more viewpoints being aired in various media.

I'm curious and ignorant on this question, though... I assume that portions of SE Asia subsist on a rice-rich diet, but I've never heard large arguments for or against rice in its various incarnations. Is it just not hitting my radar, is rice not used and processed to the extreme extent that corn is here in the US, or is a rice-rich diet more acceptable in the public's eye? What's the whole story on both sides?

I'd be very interesting to hear viewpoints on a corn-rich diet vs. a rice-rich diet (or soy-rich diet for that matter), and also wonder if a SE member in SE Asia would be willing to tackle, and blog about, a rice-free 2 week diet in the same manner that Carey Jones did with corn.

Romantical food memories...

My husband surprised me for our anniversary with dinner prepared in our kitchen by a personal chef. What a night - wonderful Umbrian food (spotless kitchen – thx Chef!), candlelight, wine...tres romantic!

Enough of my swooning though, what's the most romantic food-related thing you've ever done for someone or had done for you? Let's keep it PG-13 folks, lest the little ones be peekin’.

The Crisper Whisperer: 4 Ways to Use Lettuce (Other Than Salad)

If you grow your own lettuce, belong to a CSA, or sometimes get a little grabby at the farmers' market, chances are you'll end up with too much lettuce at some point from now through October. The good news is that although lettuce maintains a clean-cut, "just the salad, thank you" veneer in polite company, she's not the least bit afraid to take a couple of turns around the pan behind closed doors. When you just can't eat another bite of salad, try these delicious cooked alternatives. More

Bread Baking: Semolina Braid

Of all the crazy and random additions I've made to bread doughs, semolina flour is the one that has become a regular component in my breads. It makes the bread a very pale yellow color and gives it a richer flavor. The first time I used it, it reminded me of a bread my mother used to buy from a local bakery when I was a kid, and that I hadn't tasted since. More

Bread Baking: Walnut Apricot Bread

I wasn't in the mood for sweet, sticky, chunky, nutty rolls. But when I thought about the flavor of walnuts, they seemed like they'd add an interesting flavor component to the loaf without overwhelming it. Rather than adding sugar, I wanted to go with a natural sweetness—that's where the Turkish apricots came in. More


Do you make a great sangria? What are your ingredients and how do you make it? I almost exclusively make red sangria and I never use carbonated water because I believe it waters down the sangria and unless you're drinking... More

A Cheese You Should Be Eating: Beaufort

Beaufort is without doubt one of the finest hard cheeses produced in the world today, and in my experience, it's mostly unknown in the United States. With a firm yet buttery taste that melts easily in the mouth, it's so good, I've made myself sick on at least one occasion eating too much of it. More

Salsa Fresca, and Others Things Salsa

Anyone have a good, red salsa fresca recipe? I use the one below, which is my version based on Homesick Texan's recipe. I feel like it needs more tang -- a dash of vinegar, or perhaps using pickled jalapenos instead?... More