Profile

katrina

Former vegetarian/current omnivore molecular biologist. Used to manage a few kitchens. All about yelling at people on topics of food and science.

  • Location: Ontario, Canada
  • Favorite foods: Olives, creamy cheeses, tomatoes, blueberries, Liberte yogurt, anything pickled, good quality rye bread.
  • Last bite on earth: Grilled cheese/kimchi sandwich made with old cheddar on multigrain.

We Eat Everything at Piroshky Piroshky in Seattle, Part I: Savory

I love the cabbage and onion one so much. (Rhubarb too, but I guess that's coming tomorrow!)

Why Have I Never Tried: Crunchie?

I think the issue here might have been expectations going in. If someone tried a Crunchie thinking it'd be like Twix, that's just setting up a disappointment. They're not at all alike. I also think it'd be much more accurate in the marketing to call it 'sponge toffee', rather than 'honeycomb'. Also, chewing it?! What insanity. I always nibble Crunchie slowly and let it melt on my tongue. Amazing with some coffee.

(...Crunchie is my very favourite.)

Open Thread: What's Your Most Memorable College Dining Experience?

I only ate at my school's cafeteria in first year, when I also lived in residence/had a meal plan. It was the kind where you just have a certain dollar value on a debit-esque card, and I was terrified of spending it all early. This was in 2006, so about half the caf space was fast food chains (Pizza Pizza, Subway, etc). They always had 4-5 soups, chili and stew, all Campbell's. Goddamn if I don't love Campbell's chicken stew. The beef stew isn't that great, but the chicken kind is incredible. It was the same price as the soup, was nearly the cheapest meal I could find, and I love it. Maybe it's Stockholm Syndrome.

They started having 'make-your-own' omelette breakfasts on random Saturdays, but it was really poorly attended because it was only for some ungodly hours (7-9?) and it wasn't every Saturday. I only found out about it because I had an exam scheduled on a Sunday once. I stumbled in half-awake at 8 or so the Saturday prior for some cram-day coffee, and I was the FIRST PERSON who was like 'sure, I'll have an omelette'. The cook happened to be this sweet old man who'd always flirt with me. It was about 1/3 cheese, 1/3 mushroom, 1/3 egg, cooked perfectly. Probably still the best omelette I've ever had. Thanks Ottawa U.

'They Basically Wiped Out Our Profit for the Day': A Street Vendor Speaks Out About the Department of Health

My partner manages a kitchen and is extremely scrupulous about following health regulations. I also used to manage a kitchen, I thought equally scrupulously, until I picked up a shift to help him out and saw how tightly his ship was run. I could go into details, but just trust. My kitchen always passed with flying colours.

Our DOH doesn't give letter grades, just pass/conditional pass/fail. During his most recent inspection, the inspector opened the door to the walk-in, stood there in the open door for 10+ minutes talking to the clueless owner, THEN measured the internal temperature. Surprise! It was warmer than it should have been. My partner, fortunately, had arrived early that day to do prep, was witness to the above and argued that it was the inspector's fault. Still: conditional pass.

Customers should be able to expect a safe and delicious meal. I'm not against regulations. I just find it hard to trust the motives of the inspectors sent to enforce them. Some of them have been the rudest, most vindictive, even racist individuals I've had the displeasure to encounter. As an honest kitchen manager who ran a clean kitchen I find it hard to believe that most of it isn't bullshit to tax restaurant owners for the city's inability to manage municipal finances. 400$ for the minor infractions listed above is way out of line.

Snapshots from Istanbul: Beyond Baklava

My friend used to work at a shop that sold 9 different kinds of baklava...my favourites were a kind that looked like the twisted tube, but filled with peanuts instead of walnuts...and the ones that were like tiny birds' nests, filled with pistachio. They didn't make any of the kinds in this slideshow though. So many possibilities with phyllo, sugar syrup and nuts!

Chain Reaction: Pizza Hut's Big Pizza Sliders

I too was a Book It! kid, and goddamn I loved those pizzas. I'm not entirely sure I've even had Pizza Hut since, as an adult....but these little guys are awfully tempting based on nostalgia.

Weekend Baking Project: Bocaditos de Corn Flakes y Leche Condensada (Corn Flake Clusters)

I make these for Super Bowl partying every year...the batch this recipe makes is huge! I barely finished eating them just this past week. Not that I'm complaining.

The Vegan Experience: Why Does Everyone Assume Vegans Are Health Nuts?

This was a great read, and rang true to me too. When I worked at a bakery/cafe that was all vegetarian, mostly organic, and partly vegan, I'd overhear at least a few customers each week saying "oh, this place is great! everything is vegetarian, it's so healthy!" We were most famous for making pizza. Like legit, thin crusted, cheesy as heck non-healthy pizza (with one vegan pizza, my favourite, with a ton of veggies...and obscene amounts of garlic-infused olive oil). Our owner's focus was on the choices he felt were important ethically, and making everything TOTALLY DELICIOUS. Vegan/vegetarian diets are not healthy by default...and not bland and awful by default either.

Please Reminisce about Birthday Cake

As a kid, my brother and I had 'worm cake'. It was boxed devil's food cake mix baked into a 9x13" sheet cake, with cool whip and chocolate pudding as 'icing' between the layers, and cool whip mixed with copious amounts of Oreo crumbs as outer icing. Extra Oreo crumbs on top, gummi worms EVERYWHERE.

I don't remember ever having anything different as a kid. I make different things for myself now because my own birthday is in November, so I'm never at my parent's house for it....but my brother's August birthday usually falls during my summer visit home. We're both adults now, and we still love it.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Maple Syrup

No. 2 syrup is the way to go! It's so disappointing when I can only find No. 1.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

I come for the dog pictures, but I always leave with the feeling that I want to be one of your interns! Too bad I'm old and Canadian, haha.

Chez Sardine: Gonzo Japanese from the Fedora Crew

Wow, that caviar toast! As long as it's sourced from a species not yet overfished....GIMME.

How Close to Closing Can You Start a Meal At A Restaurant?

It isn't a hard and fast rule, but as a person who's worked kitchens before, I'll choose another place if it's within an hour to closing and nobody is there. If others have been served recently, it's about 30 mins to close, and I plan to quickly eat and move on, sure. I know that the kitchen staff haven't put things away yet. 30 mins in an empty place/one where the other patrons are clearly finishing up....no. They've at least started cleaning in the back, and it always annoyed me to have to do things twice/stay late. It's just a courtesy thing to my BOH brothers-in-arms.

First Look at Next: The Hunt

The 'vegetable charcuterie' served on the huge chunk of bark bothers me so much. Taking a piece of bark off of a birch tree like that, where it's thick enough to have the red-brown layers on one side, will definitely kill the tree. And because the white side can't be washed after serving, they can't reuse it, and so will require many, many pieces of that bark. It's a weird thing to get picky about, but I really, really hope that they sourced the bark from a lumber mill or somewhere using the rest of the tree sustainably.

Taste Test: Asian Chocolate-filled Cookie Snacks

I buy both Hello Panda and Koala's March occasionally as an adult, but they're different snacks. Hello Panda's way more buttery and rich; Koala's March is somehow light, and I like the crispness.

ALSO I heeeard a ruuumour that if you find a Koala with a sling and a bandage on his head, you'll have good luck for [x] time because it's the RAREST. And also ADORABLE. Never found one yet though.

Worst of the Bottom Shelf 2012: Cheap Booze To Avoid

Hahaha, I somehow missed the Canadian portion of the Beer Olympics. I find it weird that Moosehead is one that trickled across the border, because it's not particularly cheap/widespread up here (at least, in the two large Ontarian cities I've done most of my drinking in.)

You're right though...it's totally awful. Even super fresh Moosehead through a clean draught line tastes like that.

What's your best hack for store-bought food?

This isn't a dinner hack, but my favourite way to hack a store product is to add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla to instant chocolate cake/brownie mix. It makes it much easier to convince yourself that you made a reeeeal treat from scratch and takes 10 seconds extra.

When I'm lazy/desperate for dinner I make egg drop soup: Saute carrots/onions, pour over broth and a can of beans, add tiny pasta, cook til pasta's almost done. Stir in some greens, beat an egg while they're wilting, whisk in the egg, BLAM. Eat with garlic butter on crackers, because obviously there's no fresh bread in the house.

Wake and Bake: Individual Spiced Fruitcakes

Nope, definitely not alone. I hope you'll forgive me for pouring a little brandy over these.

Gift Guide: Kitchen Gear for $50 Or Less

Having been taught at home by an old-school eastern European grandma, and having worked in a commercial kitchen....both a paring knife and a chef's knife are absolutely essential. BF works in kitchens also and doesn't understand why I go so batty when I misplace the paring knife...but it's KEY for quickly doing detail work when prepping fruits and vegetables. You could potentially use the tip of the chef knife...but the control that a paring knife gives you can't be beat.

10 of Our Favorite Cookbooks in 2012

The Mile End book is so good! Wish I could actually live in Mile End...

Will Gordon Tries Budweiser's New Project 12

I dunno. Sometimes, discerning craft brew drinkers find themselves in a shitty pub for a work function, or an old high-school friend's birthday, or whatever takes one out of their generally tasteful enclaves. If these pseudo-craft Buds go out to even half of the market that AB covers, those customers will be there to drink it.

Winter Green Salad with Walnuts, Apples, and Parmesan-Anchovy Dressing

@Sudenveri: make vegan mayo! Measure 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tbsp mild vinegar (like apple cider or rice vinegar) into a food processor bowl. Turn it on, and while it's whizzing away slowly drizzle in 1 3/4 cup vegetable oil. Let it run for an extra minute or two after you've added all the oil and boom, a basic mayo!

Bagels: Top or Bottom?

For bagels where it makes a difference, I'm usually more excited to eat the top, but I like the bottom better....so that's the order I eat them in! It all works out wonderful. Montreal bagels are pretty symmetrical though, and those are what I want most often. No real difference between the two.

Mejadra from 'Jerusalem'

biting off more than you can chew.

@Traveller...just do it over a compost bin!

Prep work rarely seems particularly daunting anymore after working in a commercial kitchen for a very detail-oriented boss. Our standard batch of carrot lentil soup used 5 kg of carrots, which arrived in 20 kg sacks with dirt still on them from the organic farm. Lugging the bag upstairs, then rinsing/peeling/chopping that quantity eventually took me about 30 min, after doing it a few times.

Risotto always seems to take longer than it should, though.

Toronto: where to go for birthday dinner snacks?

So I moved to Toronto a couple of months ago. I don't know the restaurant scene that well yet, but I can find my way around geographically just fine. It's also (almost) my birthday!

My boyfriend wants to take me out someplace nice-ish for dinner. I am a total sucker for the sort of place that focuses on house-made, local, artisan etc if I'm going to be splurging. A well-thought out cheese+charcuterie board with an appropriate craft beer is heaven. Where can I find this? Ideally, a couple of drinks and splitting a bunch of nice cheeses/appetizers should hit around 75$.

A caveat: manfriend is a vegetarian. I'll get a meaty terrine-type item on any given menu for myself, but someplace that isn't duck-fat-in-everything is also kind of necessary for the cutesy sharing part.

Seattle - where should I go dining solo?

I decided somewhat on a whim that I wanted to travel and chose Seattle. I'm going to be there for 5 days, but know very little about the city aside from coffee...and I already have a pretty firm itinerary on that front. A friend is meeting me there, but only for the last 2 days.

Where are super tasty places that wouldn't be awkward to go to alone? I eat out in my hometown by myself, but it's usually casual stuff like pho. I guess what I'm asking for is really really good casual recommendations.

On a non-food related note, if anyone can suggest a good area to walk and shop, that'd be great. Judging from what I've researched so far, Capitol Hill is sort of my style...but I'm not sure if it's mostly bars or if it's worth visiting during the day also.

Thanks!

Sunday Brunch: Zucchini Muffins

[Photographs: Robin Bellinger] Everyone knows muffins are really cake--The Cake Bible comes right out and calls these cupcakes--but compared to last week's crumb cake, these dense and delicious zucchini muffins are practically health food. Before the tins went into the... More