An old lurker with a few old posts on a borrowed account. SE is fun, but too New Yorkish. Food Lab is funm but too opinionated and snooty. -Guy

  • Location: USA
  • Favorite foods: If t can be eaten, I will try it. More seriously, seafood, and poultry are tops. Always searching for 'perfect' fried chicken or fish & chips. ALWAYS...
  • Last bite on earth: Bites of the 'cap' layer of a fat prime rib roast. A meaty bite of that outer layer will get me into Heaven.

The Burger Lab: Mastering the Art of Burger Blending with Eight Cuts of Beef

**Addendum** Please... do not be fearful about adjusting your meat or meat/fat blends! Keep some notes, change things up a bit if necessary and make good use of what you have available! The best example of this suggestion is game meat. I'm not a serious fan of four-legged game, (and do not hunt), but will not discard a gifted hunk of properly processed game flesh. Grind it! Blend it with other meats/fats and yes, it can be exceptionally good. Especially when using some game meat component, the cautions about careful handling and thorough cooking DO APPLY. -CG

The Burger Lab: Mastering the Art of Burger Blending with Eight Cuts of Beef

Sir (or madam), IMHO that much fussing for ground meat is Fancy Pants Chefie stuff and simply not necessary. I've been grinding my own meat at home for almost 20 years and yes, the results are wonderful(*). It is NOT complicated and here's what I do:
1) select good, whole cuts of meat of the types that you wish to use. Chuck is a good starter and adding brisket will (should) come later.
2) Trim gross fat, reserve and chill - do not discard. Do not over-trim, but do try to remove most of the sinew and trash parts. Perfection is not expected here.
3) Cube, chunk, strip as is appropriate for your grinder.
4) At every step, keep all meat and hardware not in active use THOROUGHLY COLD.
5) See #4. It cannot be repeated often enough! Keep It COLD!
6) Make an initial, COARSE grind from COLD MEAT and Cold grinding tools, one quick pass, no more that 1# and get back into the fridge quickly. (Clean up, wash the grinding parts, and Re-Chill the hardware.
7) Consider your ground meat needs: Beef? For what use? If going for the ultimate burger, you also need ~~50% something with fat and flavor. Brisket is one choice, but there are others. Repeat the above process from #2 on and yes, get it back into the fridge/freezer as fast as possible.
8( clean up again, chill again and consider the mixture that you want. EXPERIMENT with small amounts and taste the cooked product as you go. Eventually you will find a blend that YOU like. Grind and add some reserved fat if necessary, but yes it must be darn near frozen before grinding. Chill and clean again!
9) Lightly hand-mix the coarsely ground meat(s) and fat (if used), yes... wait for it, CHILL IT AGAIN!
10) If you already know the end use of the meat, hand-mix in at least some of the intended seasoning, if only S&P. Did I mention CHILL?
11) Using a finer grinding disc and knife, posh your meat mixture through the grinder a second time. As appropriate, catch, cover and CHILL at every step. When starting the second grind, I keep 75% of whole chilled while I process 25%. It DOES make a difference.
12) Get the ground product covered and back into the fridge or short-term freezer, just to recover it from the processing. Once thoroughly chilled but not frozen solid, measure, divide, package, label and pack for whatever storage is necessary. I use a vacuum sealer in some cases, but it is not essential. Using the techniques noted above, I often grind and pack larger batches, most intended for the freezers.
In a few cases, a third is helpful. As an example, if I'm making specific or generic meatballs, I hand-mix in the fillers, binders and perhaps some seasonings, then push it through the grinder a third time; it makes it a bit finer and helps to blend things.
(*)Lastly, while I do appreciate the more uniform consistency of my home-ground meats and the ability to vary the mixtures for various purposes, those are NOT my principal reasons for grinding my own! More the 95% of my reason is to control what goes in to my ground meat and to keep it safe. In short, bacteria (good and bad) need surface area on which to grow. Fresh, *whole* cuts of meat have relatively little surface area when compared to ground meat, commercial or even my own. In grinding my own, I can easily limit the bacterial growth potential by keeping the stock and product as cold as possible and then freezing or using it ASAP. I work in a clinically clean, almost sterile environment. As an added bonus, I know *exactly* what is in every package of my ground meat and no, I certainly do not back-fill with sinew and other discarded scraps. "Mechanically rendered meat components?," or some form of 'Pink Sludge,?" Not on your life - or mine! And with proper handling and processing, ALL of this crazy grinding process CAN EASILY be done with generic Kitchen-Aid grinder attachments. (Their current plastic assemblies truly suck, but if one looks, all-metal housings can be found. Metal chills better/faster than plastic and gosh, how many times did I mention CHILLING? For me, it is about safety, ingredients and eventually - a very tasty blend of meats. The process may be intimidating for the novice, but please, stick with it and you will be rewarded. Will the home grinding process save you any time or money? Ahem - hell no! The end cost is higher. Do you really want to eat the junk included in that 5# chub of "Ground Beef," commonly sold in your local market? The choice is yours. In fairness, I should also mention that the world also includes several free-standing, single purpose meat grinders. I've used only one and found it no better than the KA mixer attachment. Perhaps it was slightly faster, but otherwise the product was the same. I see no need for another, very expensive machine. Your mileage may vary, but I'm committed to this safe and effective method. -GC

Perfect Prime Rib

@BW-Wonka: Yup! You're getting it, dude! Truth is, that Kenji's adjustable method will suit you and the MIL, without compromising either. (Never, repeat NEVER P.O. the MIL!!)
No P.R. here, this holiday, but WTF; I make it 3-4 times per year, just because I LIKE it. Good quality meat is becoming more spendy, but if treated gently, seasoned with care and PULLED EARLY, even today's norm, USDA Select, CAN be roasted into perfection. I still opt for CHOICE or better, shed a tear when I pay, and then enjoy every bite. A smaller table? Buy a 'whole' roast, ask your meat person to halve it and cook one, freeze one. It will not really hurt the meat. The necessary platter and a minute or two to please the MIL are efforts worthy of your time. (Suck-up, be nice, humor her and sure, she thinks she has some Special Rights. She may be a twerp, but humoring her won't kill you. When her plate is served, peck her behind the ear and you'll win.) If I have to say this, "When the boys to the cooking, God Save Us from the MILs. Dear old MIL knows that her own offspring should know how to do it, Was Not Properly Taught, and, if "That Man," can cook, so much the better. It the encounter is an annual thing, suck up, endure it and make nice, including killing her meat. That's what Good Boys do!
You've got it exactly right and I hope that your meat is satisfactory for all!

Perfect Prime Rib

12-26-2014: That this thread remains alive just blows my mind. The original contains excellent details and includes multiple options for MEAT EATERS of varying. The basics are there, something for anyone and while it is fun to keep it alive, how much more can it take ? I did not cook a "Rib" this year, but it has been my usual for ~30 years. They just keep getting better (or I buy better meat?) IMHO, even less than USDA PRIME meat can be roasted to virtual perfection is one is cautions, careful and plans well. IME, even large ribs usually require less time than calculated and one should be prepared to pull them early if the quick-tread thermometer so orders; adding more heat is possible, but sucking it out just won't work!
Always IMHO, pulling the meat early and offering a long rest is *Never* a bad choice. Adding more heat or service with boiling au jus will cover most sins. After years of trials and slightly varied cuts, I still prefer cooking a whole rib, trimmed, boned and retied, seasoned with vigor, cooked patiently and then given a Last Blast. Great meat has a lot in common with Great Sex: It requires an investment of time (with sex, perhaps years) lots of care and concern and even some work. The dividends cannot be measured.
For the folks that wonder about Room Temperature, I'd say season well the day before, keep it in the fridge and roast from the cold. When roasting a full cut at low temperature, it won't make a difference and you can catch up on the forward side if necessary. Don't over shoot and always pull early, for the same reasons. And a warning to all: if no one is looking, I will snag, steal or abscond with as much of your Cap Meat as I can get. I don't care if it is rare or well done. That layer of cow has to be the best part ever made, but please don't tell anyone!
Any leftovers can also be wonderful, but reheating Medium Rare roasted slab, without over cooking, is a serious challenge. I tend to use a short blast of very high heat, boiling au jus and a prayer or two. Ideas for next day service are most welcome. Got any? Got to warm it without cooking it more. If it matters, I usually leave the unserved portion whole, cut what I need and proceed. (When I see some dear mamma chopping a half rib roast into dice for soup, I cry. That can wait for day FOUR. How the heck can I best serve the chilled, but still MR remainer as solid meat on day two? Please speak up!

Perfect Prime Rib

@bobal: Of course I don't want to make fun of anyone's kitchen (especially some of the sorry excuses in NYC) and I understand ovens that won't make 550 or even 500; it happens. My honest, best advice is: dimply do the best you can. Preheat as long as possible (while resting your meat and soul), and if necessary, **perhaps** allow ONE plumber-relative to approach with a torch. Maybe. In truth, a properly, slow-roasted rib roast, cooked to the pull temperature, tented and rested, will be Just *%^ing Fine*. Even without the bling of a little crust, the objective is still massive meat served to the degree that YOU and your guests like it. Even without a little blistered crust or the over-done cap meat that I'd kill for, your roast will be just fine. , ask the plumbers to enjoy their football (beer?) and to stay out of your kitchen. Good luck. (When all else fails, including an under-powered oven, under-roast a little, rest a little longer and rewarm if really necessary. Just like unringing a run bell, you cannot un-cook meat. Adding more is possible, but we don't yet know how to uncook or decook anything. (How may years did it take me to learn that simple lesson? You don't want to know.) Happy feasting.

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

Hot Damn! Thanks Daniel, I love this article; perhaps one of the most comprehensive that SE has published. Including the gently stolen ideas, you've covered most of it. If I may, a few additions:
1) When shopping for used "CI" cookware, principally skillets, avoid those with a raised rim on the bottom. They may be OK for on a flame-producing stove, but are horrible when used on an electric burner. (One may have gas today, but CI cookware is a lifetime investment.)
Elsewhere, I contributed the stolen idea of using an oven's self cleaning cycle to rehab CI cookware. To clarify, if this method is used, I's suggest using it only once, perhaps for that garage sale special whose history one will never know. After the long, high temperature bake and a normal cooling cycle (Why not give it a whole day?) scrub the pan to death, removing all traces of prior seasoning (patina?) then wash in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Now, only now, begin a virgin, seasoning process. Use modest amounts of oil and modest temperatures with extended time. If a second-hand (or 30th-hand?) pan exhibits any signs of pitting, multiple, very gentle seasoning sessions may be necessary.
In the end, any defects short of genuine cracks can usually be overcome with a thorough - down to raw metal - cleaning and once or more gentle seasoning procedures. I too buy, rehab, sell and collect CI cookware, usually at a modest profit. I think it fun and sharing the joys of CI cookery with others is always a big plus; When used and cared for properly, there is no better cookware, no matter the task. Two additional thoughts:
1) a 'gridded' CI pan, one with some raised elements intended to impart Grill Marks on a steak or other meat, is just not worth the trouble. I pass them without s second look. Why? They are nearly impossible to clean, impart grill marks, but otherwise do not cook well. Get a smooth interior surface. Period.
2) Unusual CI shapes are a mixed bag. A 3 x 4 muffin/biscuit pan comes to mind. While such pans can be rehabbed and properly seasoned, it takes years of repeated use to build a functional patina and most folks simply do not bake muffins/pan-biscuits often enough to make the pan viable. When offered muffin pans or similar pans with shaped details, I generally pass. OK, I have and use two CI 3 x 4 muffin pans and they work just fine. They work only because I use them often, clean the with extreme care and use tons of grease. Unless one is prepared to invest that degree of effort and care - and can tolerate the hefty grease, stand clear of any CI product other than skillets, fryers and Dutch ovens. I'd also suggest passing on garage sale items that do not include a lid when appropriate. While other lids may fit, only the original CI lid will cook/bake as intended; it can and does make a difference.
Routine skillet use, shallow frying, sauteing and the like is about 85% of my CI use. with larger, deeper vessels, I bake. If you have or know or any books or links dealing with Baking in CI vessels, I'd sure like to hear about them. Thank you. Again, a Seriously fine post - and one of the best that SE has every published. It has meat, not just fluff. Thanks!

The Truth About Cast Iron Pans: 7 Myths That Need To Go Away

Again? This subject is always fun and, with no "Always perfect" answers, will never be finished. In that vein, I offer my own contribution...

If, perhaps by accident or by new Yard Sale acquisition, one has the need to fully refinish and re-season almost any piece of raw, cast iron cookware, please don't forget that Self-Cleaning oven for which you paid so much. I am not kidding! Simply place the cast iron piece(s), face DOWN into your S.C. oven run the complete cycle and let everything cool naturally, perhaps overnight. When cold, scrub that 'new' C.I. with whatever pad feels good, rinse and dry. Now... begin a new Seasoning cycle. I start low and aim for a finished temperature of almost 400, but a lot longer at 350 is perfectly OK.. Cool, rinse, wipe and repeat, allowing 4+ hours for each cycle. Obviously, if the patina is already satisfactory, no additional treatment, beyond a good scrub - is necessary. If the patina is too thick, has chips or is not yo one's liking, a full-cycle ride through a self-cleaning oven and a little washing, will restore it to base iron. Then, light oil, a long bake at 350 then 375 then - etc. ... will work just fine. I have Zero Fear of garage sale cast iron items, IF... IF they are items that I will use. (My favorite to date: a 4 x 3 (12) muffin pan from 1895. I use it often, have developed a perfect patina heck no, I won't sell. the only (basic) baking changes that I make are to preheat the pan to temp, fill it as quickly as possible and get it back into the hot oven. In my experience, when using a preheated C.I. muffin pan, cutting the bake time by ~~five minutes is about right.
Other C.I> shapes and sizes? I have plenty and love them all. The older and smoother, the better I like them. -GC

Pizza Hack: Is Copper Better Than the Baking Steel?

A fun experiment, but I think the results are real. Many mention the cost of shipping a steel slab, not no one seems to remember that 1/4" or 3/8" copper slab is some SERIOUS money. The material itself is likely 10x the cost of steel. Copper is NOT cheap!!

Breadmaking 101: How to Troubleshoot Bad Bread

Outstanding article! As a semi-regular reader I don't know how I missed this series - but I did. In time, I'll back my way through them. This diagnostic autopsy helped a lot. I have obviously been over-proofing my bread, in understand why and I can fix that, pronto! What I've not seen mentioned (so far) is the use of water/steam in the oven. Any thoughts? A great article and heck yes, I'll try to find the earlier segments. -GC

The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place in Cornbread

Wow! And thank you. That was or the best posts/articles that I've read on this site in a Very Long Time. It does make sense and I must agree that many of today's ingredients (processed foods?) ARE different enough to require others as well as different methods. I don't mind the plugs for Anson Mills, but I suspect that Bob Moore of Bob's Red Mill, essentially local, can also provide the goods. A few experiments with Traditional Southern Cornbread will make a fine project for the coming winter. Of Note: While I have used some wheat flour in cornbread over the decades, I quit using sugar in same simply because I never thought it necessary. Apparently I was right. Great Article!!

The Food Lab: How to Make Foolproof Eggs Benedict

Not bad, but this 95% rerun filler. Please, let's move to new content. Thanks.

Foolproof 2-Minute Hollandaise

I'm still making this, +/- as directed but with more lemon and less water, sometimes in double batches. While that it a boatload of butter, the method continues to work just fine for me. For the two-yolk batch I use a 400ml lab beaker that fits my stick blender just fine. The KEY seems to be very hot butter. If the sauce is not quite as thick as I want it, I but in a a ~~200 water bath for a couple of minutes with constant stirring. The Two-Yolk batch easily serves four and a sprinkle of fresh dill goes well.
Don't be locked into that expensive "Canadian Bacon," which is neither. Relatively soft standard bacon tastes even better. And if anyone tries to copy the FF joints with a slice of Amerikan cheese, I'll never speak to you again; This is just not the place for cheese, real, fake or otherwise. -GC

5 Delicious Coleslaw Variations

I've 'fought' with slaw for years. IMO, the real key, as noted, is the salty soak, rinse and spin-dry. The only one of these that appeals to me is the Vinegar Slaw, nearly identical to what I make. Good post.

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

Evolution happens, it is expected and we move on. That said, I believe that terminating TALK is an error in that access to those conversations is now limited to those who participate in external "Social Media" outlets. For a variety of reasons, this reader does not and will not use those services. While it may be fair to claim that a majority of SE's readers already use said external services, I think it also fair to say that a significant number do not. By this action SE's management has effectively excluded the latter class of readers. My participation over the last year has waned a bit as I've discovered other, more friendly sites. Without TALK I guess it will become even less. Sometimes evolution is of benefit and sometimes it is not. I will not quit this site, yet, but my visits will continue to become less frequent. That too is evolution. -GC.

Foolproof 2-Minute Hollandaise

Ha! Only two weeks since my first note on this subject and I've made the sauce for the THIRD time. After considering all of the foregoing comments and Kenji's F/U notes, here's what I did: made certain that the butter was plenty hot (used instant-read thermo); use the whole egg (I too prefer a thicker sauce) and substituted more lemon (or lime!!) juice for the water. The finished sauce was the viscosity that I like, had a more robust, citrus flavor and I'd call it perfect. The next edition, likely very soon will also include a bit more cayenne. IMO, if one is going to the trouble to make a butter/egg such as this, let's get over the 'pretty and polite factor,' and make a sauce with character that will stay in place and adds more than the fatty mouth feel. Thanks to Kenji (and the others) for sharing the basic formula. I cannot remember quite where, but I too have seen this general method before. It may not be a Kenji/SE original, but it is quick, easy and foolproof; that's good enough for me. Five Stars!

My Pie Monday: Figs, Ramps, Sage, and More!

SE has +/- lost interest in pizza and the serious pizza makers have lost interest in SE.

Flour Types for Pizza Dough?

Thanks folks. Yes, @Traveller probably got the closest . I've been making my own dough reasonably well for years. At this point, I'm just trying to 'kick it up a notch' and make it better. Perhaps the 50% APF and 50% bread flour that I usually use really is the 'best' simple combination. With a 48+ hour fermentation, the flavor is ideal; I just think that I can achieve a better texture. As all pizza makers know, the quest never ends!
Special thanks to @Tanner: Yup, I'll check out the link that you provided. Happy pies to all,

Foolproof 2-Minute Hollandaise

Who wudda ever thunk that a Good Hollandaise Sauce could be this easy? I've made this three times in the last month and I've yet to screw it up. That's a claim that I cannot make for the traditional (whisk) method that still results in ~30% failures. Most 'easy' methods have compromises, but I've yet to find one with this sauce. Using HOT butter and pouring slowly seems to be the key. I also use a stainless steel container for mixing and do it on a **very low** stove, just too keep things warm.
For my taste, the lemon component is essential. I skip the water and double the lemon juice and have had no trouble. And yes, as suggested, I incorporate the entire butter component, not just the clarified liquid. I've not noticed any change so why toss those valuable solids? Good thinking, Kenji!!

Don't Like Deep Frying At Home? Try the Philips AirFryer, a Convection Oven on Steroids

Umm, I don't think so. This gizmo from Philips may be new, but the Heat-Gun approach to deep fat frying is not. There is only so much energy (heat or otherwise) to be obtained from a 20-AMP kitchen circuit and sorry, but it is not enough to "Air Fry" more than 3-4 pieces of potato of any size. I don't know how this gozmo made it onto the retail market, but please don't bother. If one is seriously bent on Hot Air Frying, borrow the Heat Gun from your shop and play around with that, always remembering that it has the potential to become extremely hot. (For novices, it looks like a hair dryer, is usually colored like a power drill and, if one is not extremely careful, it can hurt you in a serious way. Please don't go there.) Sorry, but I cannot support this gizmo, at the 450 level and certainly not at the $250 level. Someone at Philips is having bad dreams.
As DBC notes in one reply, a commercial model costs nearly $2400. That may be OK for a place than cannot accommodate a fryer, but is not relevant for home use. At $250, this thing is a a serious waste of space and dollars. One important idem that DBC neglected to mention is the suggested portion size for 'best results.' If serving only a table of two, you will probably need at least three 'Air Frying' machines. Do you have $750 to experiment with, let alone three, full-power circuits in your kitchen?
The theory is not horrible. I've eaten a couple of specialty potato thingies cooked in an 'Air Fryer,' and they were not horrible. There were prep'd and cooked in very small batches - even for a commercial unit. This counter-top unit simply does not have the horsepower to compete. Unless One is willing to spend $250 to "Air Fry" potato slices, One at a Time, it is a waste. IMO, the SE staff and DBC should have recognized this from the start. Perhaps a great idea and something that some have been waiting for, I cannot see this thing as ready for Prime Time. Give Philips another ten years and we'll try again.

New $12 Burger Lands at McDonald's in Switzerland...or Does It?

Not with my money. (Not even in Amerika.)

What's Up in Pizza: Kit-Kat Pies, Edible Boxes, and More!

Hilarious and thanks. GC

Taste Test: We Try Every SodaStream Soda Syrup Flavor

As a big fan of plain seltzer, a friend gifted a Soda Stream gizmo my way some months ago. It was fun to play with and 'fizzing' my own spring water was nice. In the end, the cost of gas, and special bottles did not pan out. I've reverted to buying generic, house-branded, unsweetened plain or lemon-lime sparkling water at ~$2.50/12 12 Oz cans. If I want a little flavor, a splash of fruit juice is enough. I had no idea that these folks had so many flavors, but there is still little appeal; most are reported as too sweet and sweet beverages are just not my thing. Fifty-Nine Choices? Wow!! Number sixty may well be 'water flavored!'

Cereal Eats: A Look Back to Celebrate National Cereal Day

Cereal Trivia Question: What is the one and ONLY standard, commonly available breakfast cereal that contains No Added Sugar? Think for a moment... Now wait for it.... Shredded Wheat!
(and darn near the only one that I eat.)

Anyone check out the new Food and Wine site FWx?

I'll look; I always look. And I'll probably maintain +/- my current list. Commercial sites (yes, like SE) that survive more than 90 days will evolve. Sometimes they get it right and thrive - and sometimes they bomb. To be brutally honest, I don't care about the glitz and bling, but focus on the content. IMO, the most of the most important content comes from amateur sites. While no criticism of SE, I usually get a lot more functional content from the amateur sites. SE remains a leader, I guess, but the focus has changed over five years and I'm not sure that it is for the better.
I'm not a millenial and I sure don 't play one on TV. If today's young adults expect to survive in the food world, first they must move beyond eating out/ordering in 10+ times per week. (I suspect that most have far too much cash in their pockets.) Before SE and similar sites will be of value, I think the kids have to develop some degree of interest in preparing their own food, first. Maybe?

I'm quitting the site

Bye Bye! A few posts may be missed but IMO, most were filler. Was SE paying you?

White Beans with Ham Hocks - RECIPE

I've never seen anyone else serve this "Old Family Favorite" quite this way, so I'm dropping it off for your consideration. I usually use Small White Beans, but ANY White Bean will do. Use what you have! I use a Pressure Cooker, but an ordinary, stove-top pot is perfectly fine. (I do not recommend a Slow Cooker for beans.) At least 8 hours (24 is better) peel, dice one White Onion and marinate in White Vinegar. Ham hocks (Or shanks) vary a lot. When I can get them, I prefer using meaty shanks and asking the butcher to saw them into 3/4" to 1" slices, across the bone, If that is not possible, I use smaller, whole hocks and in both cases, slash through the skin/rind in several spots. I precook the meat (under pressure) for at least 10 minutes, then use the Natural Release method. IMO it helps to extract more flavor from the bones, meat and connective tissue, but it is not absolutely essential. Reserve the cooking liquid and cut meat from the bones in large chunks.
Cooking times will vary slightly; please remember that this dish is supposed to be fully-cooked, tender *whole* beans, not bean soup. The marinated diced onion (with a slotted spoon) and ketchup, if desired, are passed at table as condiments. I prefer onions alone, but many folks like a dollop of the red stuff as well. I usually serve these beans accompanied by a green salad and/or plain biscuits - or not. Any leftovers reheat well in a microwave, but freezing is not recommended. As with any bean dish, I do not add salt during cooking. I find the Bay Leaf essential and the smashed garlic is optional. Additional notes in the recipe section. Enjoy! -GC

Flour Types for Pizza Dough?

Sam Sifton's recent, often cited pizza article in the New York Times calls for 50% all purpose flour and 50% "00 Flour." While "00 Flour" can be had, for most of Amerika it is a mail order product, can be expensive and is likely to be stale. After extensive reading, I conclude the "00 Flour" is a slightly finer, lower gluten & protein flour, nearly identical to what we know as "Pastry Flour." Do you experts agree? Is Pastry Flour a reasonable substitute for the famous "00 Flour?"
If it matters, I've made the published formula twice, fermenting it for 48+ hours both times, but using 100% APF - because that's what I had (flour, yeast, salt and a splash of olive oil). Despite gentle hand-mixing and rest periods, including the 48+ hour fridge rest/fermentation, when stretching the dough to dress and bake, it seems to be too stiff and resistant. Is use of 50% 'softer' flour likely to improve the handling properties? All thoughts and ideas are most welcome.
If it matters, my ultimate objective is a friendly dough that I can mix, ferment for 48 hours, ball and then freeze in ~~285 gm portions. The idea is to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours, rest at room temperature for 1 - 1.5 hours, stretch dress and bake. I'm limited to a 550F max oven with stone or steel. IMO this dough has great flavor, but the texture is just too dense and it fights back when stretching. What am I missing? Will slightly 'softer' flour help? Thank you.

Please to Report: Chile Oil Success: Part Two

Part Two:

8. Remove the fresh garlic and any fragments, because they tend to spoil quickly.
9. Cover/seal the container and refrigerate pending use.
If nine steps sounds complicated, I assure you that it is not. Keep it clean, don't burn it and if using garlic, get all of it out before jarring and storing your new oil. In use, sometimes I use just some oil while other times some flake and seed is included. The oil alone has some heat, but it is nothing close to the killer range. When added to other ingredients and as a condiment, during cooking or at table, this chile oil seems to add flavor, not heat. The oil is but the carrier and I don't worry about it since one tablespoon, perhaps much less is plenty.
My sincere thanks to all provided suggestions and links in response to my original inquiry. This result is my combination of many of those suggestions. Of Note: A few outside sources suggested using a little water to expand and help extract flavors from the chile flesh and seeds before introducing any oil. It does make sense. However, I did not discover any improved flavor with this method and I don't use it. Your mileage may vary!!
Heck yes! This was fun! I asked, I got a few answers and some excellent links, made my own experiments and now have a Chile Oil that I like. Does it get any better? I do not know how long this stuff will last in the fridge. If ALL of the fresh garlic is removed, it will probably last for many months. Once I settled on this formula, I made a batch with about 12 Oz. of oil. It will last another 6 weeks and I expect to make a fresh batch every 4-5 months.
I hope this helps someone! Far too often we help with inquiries and then never hear about the individual's results. I know that this is far too long, but I'm doing my part to correct the No Results thing.
P.S. Even at this late date, additional suggestions are always welcome.

Pleased to Report: Chile Oil Success Part One

Several months ago a posted a question in this space about suggestions for making Chile Oil. A few wonderful suggestions were offered as well as a couple of links to other sites. I studied everything I could find and conducted a few experiments. While your mileage may vary, the following is what I settled on and it works just fine for me:
1. Use a good quality oil and one that can stand up to a little heat. This is a good use for spendy peanut oil. Canola oil is also OK, but please be careful about the heat. In any case, a bland, mostly flavorless oil is best.
2. Begin with whole, dried chiles of choice. There are differences and one's own taste must govern.
3. Break/crush dried chiles into a food processor or blender and pulse whizz until the bits are fine, but not yet a powder. I do like to use the seeds, but fracturing too many of them can result in in off-taste, somewhat bitter oil product.
4. Using a skillet or sheet pan, toast the chile bits and seeds a bit in their dry state and before adding any oil. Gentle heat, some time, frequent stirring and patience are key here. One does want a little toasting, but anything even close to burning and you'd better start again from the beginning.
5. Add a little oil and stir well. Add more oil, slowly, stirring almost constantly over medium-high heat until some hint of aroma appears. Slowly add more oil, trying to keep the temperature reasonably even.
6. The end product is about 25% chile and seeds and 75% oil. Cook this mixture 10-15 minutes at medium heat, stirring frequently and please do not let it overheat.
7. If one wishes to add garlic, IMO a great idea, use freshly peeled cloves, lightly smashed such that they do not fragment. Add the fresh garlic a the end of the cooking and turn the heat OFF.
Please See Part TWO...

How to Make Chili Oil?

I want to make some Chili Oil, perhaps similar to that that I've experienced as a condiment in some Asian eateries. It has been a while, but memory suggests a lot of pepper flakes and seeds, home-smashed or otherwise, in oil. I do not know what kind of pepper flake is suggested or what kind of oil to use. I'll assume that there is some heating involved but I have no clue. My best guess is to store the completed condiment in the fridge, flake, seed and oil together and use small measures as necessary. I like the stuff, but I have no clue about how to cook it to extract the best flavors. All suggestions are welcome and there are no wrong answers. Thanks! Of note: A couple of prior experiments were ~OK, but did not have the robust flavor that I'm looking for. Ideas?

SE's Test Kitchen Fridge?

I love the weekend summary pix. And I've enjoyed seeing the Test Kitchen at SE Hq expand from a hotplate to what it has become. However, every time I see a partial shot of the black fridge, I think, "Why on earth don't they reverse the doors?" Virtually all of today's over-under fridges allow the user to reverse the door hinges so that the opening faces the kitchen's work space. No additional hardware is required and the instructions are included in the basic operating package. (If that has gone missing you can find it on the web.) Two lightweights, a screwdriver and twenty minutes should be enough. After a few days of use you'll wonder why you did not swap the hinged side when the fridge first came into your office. Good luck! -GC

Paulie Gee's & Michelin 2014?

Well gosh! The 2014 Mechelin ratings are out. With a firm grip, no one expects pizza joints to achieve Michelin stars. That said, I guess Paulie Gees made the honorable mention class in the 2014 Michelin Guide. Major congrats, Paulie!
In business for +/- three years, that Green Point 'joint' seems to have developed into one of the Go-To pizzas of NYC. I've not been there, a simple roblem of 2350 miles, but I'll get there.

Congratulations, Paulie! That hobby of yours, plus a very smart business plan and 99% perfect quality control have put you on the map. Please, don't ever compromise your standards.


Any Great Substitutes for Red and White Wine in Cooking?

Far too often I've passed up some wonderful looking braising, poaching and sauce recipes when the formula calls for more than a Tbs or so of wine. A tiny amount in a salad dressing is OK, but any more than that just does not work for me. I'm looking for substitutes for both robust reds and whites, (sweet and dry) for kitchen use. Of Note: The de-alcoholized wines like Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) used to promote are +/- OK, but nearly impossible to find and a bit expensive for what they are. I would prefer readily available substitutes or perhaps combinations of a a few of things that will work just as well. Thank you.

Server Date String Error?

Is SE having server trouble today? I just posted a new topic on PIZZA (August 14, 2013, about 2045 PDT, but it seemed to register as April 30, 2013. Just thought you might like to know. -GC

Tweeking Pizza Ingredients to suit Your Taste

All eyes are closed and no one can see your vote. Who among us has not wished for some tiny adjustment in one our favorite pizza ingredients. I did not peek, but I heard some hands go up. My go-to topper is hotish fennel sausage, but my much-loved butcher/sausage won't modify his formula for less that 10#. Here's my fix, but please realize that in this situation exact measurements are worthless. I begin with whatever quantity of "pretty good" raw sausage is needed. Using a mortar and pestle I fine grind some dried pepper flakes and then some fennel seed. I thoroughly stir some of both into the raw sausage and proceed. Again, exact measurements are worthless, but if you make your own sausage pizza often enough, you will get a feel for what sings to your soul. While probably not the world's 'best' pizza, thanks to our old friend AK, I've had more than one dream about Maria's in Milwaukee. Never been there but it is on my bucket list. Thanks for the periodic reminders, AK. And yes, I consider a light, post-bake sprinkle of raw onion essential. -CG
Is something wrong with SE's' server date stamp today? This post is registering April 30, 2013.

Korean Rice?

Does anyone know what kind of rice is most commonly served in Korea? I know there are wide variations on 'traditional,' but for the sake of conversation, Japanese cuisine usually uses a short grain rice, while Chinese rice consumers typically prefer a longer grain rice. I know... with 50+ varieties of rice commercially available, the sky is the limit. I'd just like to know what kind of rice most Korean folks prefer. Is there anything unique about Korean rice cooking methods? Thanks!

Better Ideas for "French Dip" Beef Sandwiches?

Ah! This time I HAVE enough time to plan, test and consider the options. Toward the end of summer I need to make a quantity of beef "French Dip" sandwiches for a family & friends gathering in my home. Of note: everything will occur at home and in my own kitchen, so this is not a road show and the logistics are easily under control. I have access to a 'deli-grade' commercial slicer that I've used before. **I need *more/better* ideas about the meat and how to cook it.** The end product will be warm, thinly sliced (not pulled) beef on a quality roll with generous cups of *hot* 'Au jus'(sp?)and horseradish sauce available.
So far, I'm thinking lean cuts of 'Eye of Round,' cooked, sealed-in with garlic and onion, in a sous vide type gizmo that I made a few years ago. I see the produced juices as a component of the 'Au jus,' chilling the cooked meat before slicing, warming it in broth for service etc. The typical streaks of rare meat just won't happen here and that's OK. I need tasty, very tender slices, in honor of some guests who do not chew as well as they used to. For this event, a robust flavor and gentle texture trump the visual appearance of rare meat. I see many chunks of fresh garlic inserted in the meat and some sliced onion in the sealed bag. What else? Beyond the mental image and the very rough idea about the s.v. cooking, I'm stuck. Your suggestions for additional seasoning, a different cooking method and other ad hoc enhancements are most welcome. Perhaps we can start with time & temp ideas for this cooking method? I have no clue. I'll gladly consider other methods, but.. I'll consider other cuts, I'm not making "Prime Rib on a roll." (Where is @MeatGuy when I need him?) Thank you, fellow eaters and cooks. I'll be checking back for your ideas. With *GRINS,* it is fun to post an inquiry that does NOT need results for "tomorrow's party." This time I have the time... to try other ideas. Thanks! GC

FAST- Emergency Pizza Dough

Slice, the rest of the web and our endless books include countless great dough formulas. Never any argument from me about the benefits of a long fermentation - that way IS better. Still, I need a back-pocket dough formula that will move from mixing to baking as quickly as possible. As much as I hate to impose limits on a request like this, I do care about ingredients:
It must use yeast alone as the only leavening (no baking power, please). For this use, I'm not interested in the super-high hydration formulas, the pour and spread types (they have their place, but this is not it).
If it helps your thinking, I have and use a humidified, temperature-controlled proof box (12.5" x 15") that will accommodate both bulk and stretched dough to speed the rising. While we lean toward thinner crusts, here, a thicker, 'puffier' crust would be OK. The real need is an active, half-decent dough that can move from flour, water, yeast (and?) to finished pizza **as quickly as possible.** Baking is done in a home oven of 500F max and can be done on a stone, on a flat pan, or skillet etc. (I've done them all and in this case, don't much care. Again, the point is a yeasted dough that can be stretched and baked in the least possible time. Why? Like most other pizza nuts out there, we have our fair share of 9-1-1 pizza needs. Take-out (Take-away?) and delivery are not viable options; it has to be made at home and even when reserved, frozen dough is not available. In advance, my guests and I thank you for your suggestions and any formulas & methods offered. GC.
P.S. I'm only concerned about a fast-performing dough; The pantry or fridge always has something great to put on top and we're never without tomato, a reasonable cheese and herbs. Thank you.

Asparagus, Part Two

Asparagus continued...
5) Eat it RAW when possible. Slivers or your best, most creating slices or strings are just fine. A fast blanch followed by ice water is fine. Plain ice water will help curl your decorative strips. (Hint: Use the potato peeler for the entire lower 60% of the stalk and curl the product.)
6) Cook your Asparagus gently. Steaming whole stalks does not take long. If you are a chubnker or a stir-fry person, cook your chopped chunks for about HALF the time that you would have guessed. Boiling should be a felony, but well-controlled steaming in a microwave can be ideal. (I've used a Pyrex loaf pan, plastic wrap and 2-3 Tbs white wine with superior results (add some EVOO and Rice Vinegar for serving?) Sautee if intending to use your Asparagus in another dish, but only lightly. (A favorite is Asparagus and potato frattta - both the asparagus and the potato need a little pre-cooking, but please don't over due it.
7) No matter how you use your Asparagus, it will retain more flavor and texture if you don't cook it to death. Did I mention that overcooked Asparagus is a felony in my neighborhood?
8)- and last, as noted elsewhere, the diameter of the stalk is NOT a mark of quality, representing only the general age of the perennial 'root' that supports it. The thick and think stalks are exactly the same - though your bundle should be all of the same type.
Asparagus is one of the Spring Season's greatest joys. If you are fortunate enough to have enjoy high quality Asparagus, please - don't screw it up after your precious bundle is a home!

Please! Don't Hate your Asparagus

While this 'Talk' comment is mostly rhetorical, I'll include some direct suggestions at the end.
Heavens yes! This is Asparagus Season. No matter how angry or frustrated you may be this week, please don't express your feelings toward your Asparagus. Those wonderful stalks (green, purple or even white) just won't understand. As long as your Asparagus is reasonably fresh, it does not really matter how large it is: some prefer the tiny,m pencil thin stalks, suggestive of a very young root, while others swear by the thumb-thick stalks of a more mature root. Please just be kind to your Asparagus and don't waste any. All too often, I still see folks doing the 'Natural Snap" thing. Nuts and wasteful. Here are some points that I follow:
1) Obviously, buy the freshest that you can get. If the top buds, leaves waiting to happen, look tired and dry, it is either old or has been poorly handled.
2) At home, wash it gently, CUT (not snap) a tiny portion, perhaps 1/8" and stand in clean water, with a gentle top covering. If not to be used the same day, change the water daily, just as you should with cut flowers. (Some folks add a pinch of sugar, but mine never stays around long enough to try this.)
3) Again, skip the "snap" routine. It is wasteful and you'll discard far more than is necessary. When ready to cook, CUT another tiny portion from the bottom end before any cutting for service.
4) If you are fortunate enough to have mature Asparagus, finger and thumb-sized stalks, PLEASE don't waste that bottom 60% of the stalk. A far better idea is to address it with your potato peeler, much as you would to peel a carrot. Yes, the first layer of the bottom 60% can include a lot of annoying fiber. Peel it off, just like a carrot. -- To be continued --

Help with Artichoke Overload (Canned Heart Quarters in Water)

I was recently gifted a **#10 can** of Quartered Artichoke Hearts, but I've not yet opened them. (That is a LOT of quartered Artichoke Hearts!) This can is an import from Spain and a water-pack, adding only salt and citric and ascorbic acids, NOT the seasoned, oil-pack more commonly available for salad use.
My future seems to include some enhanced salads, a pizza or two and several rounds of "Pasta and Artichoke with [fill-in favorite herb]. Those won't be enough to consume this huge can within a reasonable time, once it is opened. With and Exp. date of 04-15, I don't have to open it today. Please help! I need more ideas.
I'd also welcome ideas about how to store the remaining portions once the can is opened, drained and rinsed. Thank you in advance and I'll check-back to read your suggestions. I wish that I could email some samples.

He's Back... (silly grins) You've Been Warned...

After more than a year of fighting with the display and presentation at SE and several other sites, I've tossed in the MSIE towel and migrated for Firefox. IS it perfect? No, but close enough for me. At least I can now see SE's slides - AND their captions on an over-sized screen and without having to scroll with every pic. Text is much easier to read as well. Some websites are built for MSIE and some, like SE just are not. What took me so long? Even those MSIE sites look/read better. Perhaps SE's tech folks ought to mention this more often. Regards to all.

Some fixed, but others worse: Enough

I am delighted that you - or evolution finally caught up with the "Back Button" issue. SE's software has never been fully compliant with basic standards, but that was just too much.
There is plenty of content, but the importance and quality has slipped - a lot; most is either blather or undeclared 'sponsored' blather and it is obvious. Worse, what a few weeks ago used to be an exceptionally GREAT Slide Show with some artilces is now >50% ad junk and enough that I have to FIGHT to see titles and captions.
I understand your motive$ and the SE $ite's need to turn a profit, but you have sold your soul without your goals. SE has substituted Blather for content and it shows.
I guess you expect to cycle through readers and I'm one of the few who has spoken up. The others, from '10, '11, and early '12 are already gone. I suspect that they left for the same reasons, but did not say so. In the end, it is just not fun anymore. The humor is gone, the ad space seems to be over 50% and the content quality has dropped to Oreo tasting as the week's most important event. That is NOT good enough SE folks! Unless the content and readability improves, I've wasted enough time. Best wishes and I'm sure that you'll do just fine without me. And - Shame on you!

Star Tavern's "Bar Pizza"

In December, 201 there was a brief discussion of Star Tavern's thin crust Bar Pizza, both here and on some other blogs. "Phil" shared details, passed on from his Father and apparently obtained from a former owner of Star Tavern. The rest is history.
Since this is my Pizza Cognition Theory and Go-to pizza, I saved the details. I've spent the last six months experimenting with "Phil's" formula and notes. Some results:
Early on, many folks questioned the very high percent of semolina in the dough recipe. It is high and it is correct. This dough is not wasy to work with. To make this excellent thin crust pie, yo will use a rolling pin and you will let the dough rest and rise for a long time. Get used to it. Some important notes...
The rolling pin is not an accident or a convenience, it is necessary. You cannot stretch this dough by hand. Once thin and expanded, let it rest at room temperature for several hours. It really does take that long for this stuff to relax and to expand a little bit. It is very tight and takes a LONG time to relax and grow. Those specially cut pizza pans are nothing more that a custom peel. Do it or skip it. The important part is baking on pre-heated stone and using a peel (or?) lubricated with corn meal. Skip the custon pans!
You do NOT need 550-600F temps to make this pizza! Temps more in the 400F range are betteer as they won't burn the cheese. So help me... The most important part is to bake the SOB thoroughly. It cannot be over-stressed. That high-semolina crust, when rolled very thin, works just fine, but it simply must be thoroughly baked! Again, to avoid burning the cheese, use a well-pre-heated stone, a slightly lower temperature and as much time as is necessary to thoroughly bake that thin crust. When cooked, it is wonderful. When undercooked, it is a bit gummy and is sucks. Cook the SOB!
More mores about toppings etc. if I see any interest. This is Very Fine pizza, but attention to details is necessary. Anyone?

Cinnamon/Sugar Paste for Rolls/Buns?

Soft Cinnamon rolls are a common treat in this house. I usually sprinkle a mixture of sugar(s) and cinnamon in the dough before rolling, the 'standard' method. I'd like to try replacing the sprinkles with a paste, probably bound and fluffed with some butter. Does anyone have any experience with this? Any idea what the butter-to-sugar ratio should be? My Baking Brain says 'whip the heck out of it,' making it much lighter than a butter cream icing, as the dough already has plenty of fat and sugar. I'm not trying to make Carmel Rolls, where a similar paste goes into the bottom of the pan, but rather substitute the paste for the sprinkled cinnamon and sugar mixture. This paste might also help to hold raisins and/or chopped nuts in a more uniform position. As always, all thoughts and ideas are welcome. Thank you.

Emergency Pizza Sauce, Experimental, V-1.0

Who among slicers has not seen endless taste tests of tomatoes in a half-dozen forms, Paulie G.'s secret tomatoes and the debate over straight canned vs. a cooked sauce? I recently had need for some red pie sauce with zing and no time to play around, usong only what was at hand. Frankly, it was far better than I had expected...

One 28 Oz. can of Hunt's no added salt PLUM tomatoes. (See notes)
FIVE peeled cloves of fresh garlic (I did say 'zing' right?)
1 Tbs. dry basil
Tomato paste to thicken, about 2/3 of 6 Oz can, so about 4 Oz.
Salt to taste
Drain tomatoes reserving juice. Remove residual skin bits and top core as necessary. Cut open and remove most seeds, tossing tomato flesh, garlic and basil into a blender. Whiz on low speed, high if necessary, to get things blended. While the juice is drained, this is still very wet. Add tomato paste, 1 Tbs. at a time and continue blending until the desired consistency is achieved. I like mine a bit on the thick side, so I used about 2/3 of the small can. Your mileage may vary. Taste and add salt if necessary. I prefer less as there is plenty in the cheese and pepperoni and/or sausage to follow. Let it sit while making the Emergency, Need it NOW Pizza Dough, to be posted at another time. While the pizza was a bit short of world-class, it served the purpose and was on the table in ~90 minutes. In my never humble opinion, the sauce was one of the tastiest in recent memory. Best wishes. Note: This posting engine demands entries, but has no place to put them. Some text duplicates between post and recipe, but they don't give me much choice. If you are interested, you'll figure it out.

Guydon (Japanese Beef Bowl) and Dashi

SoCal has a bunch of Yoshinoya-brand fast food places that serve Gyudon (one or two in NYC?) but otherwise the USA is a wasteland for this dish. I got hooked on it many years ago, but rarely visit SoCal and I've not had great luck making it at home. (The textures are fine, but the flavor is not.) The rice, beef, onion components are no-brainers, but the umami-toting Dashi escapes me. Any suggestions for specific brands of powdered or liquid Dashi that will work - or reasonable substitutes? I note many more recipes for Gyudon on the web in recent years, some with no mention of Dashi. Is this reasonable? What are the flavor keys to this fun dish? All ideas are most welcome and thank you. -GC

Sorry Folks, but the Back Button

Sorry folks, but the recent upgrade has done little o r noting to improve the simple Back Button function. Sometimes it may go one level, but serious reading of the site still requires multiple re-starts. If th is is a move to increase t he total hit-count, counot me out; I'm looking for better behaved sites. What have you other folks experienced. I think this is a bit sad - more fluff and more clevere ads, but no attention to the basic software. They KNOW it is clunky, but they won't change or upgrade. Why not?

Back Button: Still Broken. Why? Anyone Home at SE's IT Dept?

Yes, in some cases, mostly those of normal reading progession, the BACK BUTTON is STILL broken. After weeks of questions and comments, it is not fixed, SE has not responded (that I know of) and it has become an avoidance item. I cannot read the site as I wish, needing to start over far too often when I want to see the next article. What happens? I cruise through the first pages of most posts and the SKIP the remainder because it is simply not worth restarting the website and scanning through the junk that I've read - or not read - to regain the former position. I'm tired of the annoyance and I'm cruising for food-related sites that have far better technical performance. Regular readers have been promised technical improvements for years, another is apparently pending, but few offer any graces to the reader. In fairness, the months-old improvement in Slide Shows, with longer individual captions and a +/- faster load, was a very nice benefit. The Slide Shows are now worth a fefw clicks. Thanks. The other glitches are seriously annoying, seem to be increasing and often make the site simply Not Worth The Trouble. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! I sure hope they get it fixed, before a lot of readers just DELETE the link - as more trouble than it is worth.

35-YO Rice Cooker is DOA

My 35-YO rice cooker died. It was a very early, very simple one - at least by American standards of the late 70s. Everything was controlled by the volume of water added: It simmered until it boiled dry (temperature increased) and then shut off. I need a new one and I think I can do a little better this time. Smaller is better as we rarely feed more than two. Ideas, including brand and model - and your personal experience if relevant - are most welcome. We're not wealthy, but function is more important than cost. Thank you.

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