• Favorite foods: heirloom tomatoes with good olive oil
    any variation of chicken & rice

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Corned Beef & Cabbage

Not to be *too* picky but boiled dinner is not Irish ... it's American, maybe Irish-American. Often called New England Boiled Dinner. My Swedish grandmother made it every Sunday, and hash from the leftovers on Mondays. If she added beets, she called it Red Flannel Hash.

You are more likely find colcannon in Ireland -- traditionally made from mashed potatoes, cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper. Along the lines of Bubble & Squeak. Maybe with some Irish bacon.

"Paddy" is a nickname for Patrick and most probably comes from Padraig, Irish for Patrick. Hence St. Paddy's Day.

Try hard cider with your corned beef. Magners -- the American import name for Bulmer's -- is an Irish farmhouse cider. Yum.

NY Times' Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Fine Cooking has a recipe for a Dark Chocolate Cake made with olive oil that is very good. I've made it with orange olive oil it for a subtle orange flavor.

Need recipe for Irish brown sandwich bread, not soda bread

Cook's Illustrated has a recipe for variations on soda bread that might be what you are looking for. We tweaked the flours, reduced the sugar and added some wheat germ to come up with our own brown bread that's fairly close to what we've had in Cork. It does not keep very long -- but is great toasted when its a couple of days old. I like to toast it then top with some good cheddar then pop in the broiler to melt the cheese.

Brown Soda Bread

2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 1/2 cups stone-ground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.)

3. Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in cast-iron pot, if using. Place the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut a cross shape into the top.

4. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 190 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.

Yields 1 loaf .

@lemonfair: The Irish cider (Bulmer's) is available here under the name Magner's. Trademark issues prevent selling it under the Bulmer's label -- but up to the name, it looks and tastes exactly the same. Try it mixed with a good ESB (50-50) ... it's yummy!

Foodie gift for a friend's family?

If find that something hand-made -- however small -- is from the heart and always appreciated. So a basket of scones or a plate of cookies would be just fine.

If you want to dress it up -- buy a nice towel to line a basket, or a nice plate from an antique store, add a nice jar of jam and clotted cream, maybe some tea. Add one of your usual thank-you notes and they'll love it.

First time making turkey - to brine or not to brine?

@WickedGoodDinner and other brining non-fans -- look at the LA Times article I linked above on "dry-brining." In it, the author talks about exactly that issue.

This dry technique seems to be gaining ground on brining because it is a) easier -- not everyone has 5 gallon stock pot laying around and b) better -- by not adding water, the meat stays firmer.

I salted a chicken once (Judy Rodger's Zuni Roast Chicken) and it was great.

Mrs. Pauls has left the building: HELP!!!

Have you tried the CopyKat website? They might have something similar.

First time making turkey - to brine or not to brine?

This time of year, there are hundreds of articles and posts on the whys, hows & benefits (or not) of brining. There was an in-depth post here on SE recently, the weekly food pages in your newspaper, all the magazines and most of the cooking shows are full of items & recipes about it. Most people agree that brining improves the flavor and texture of turkey. If done properly the meat is moist and well-seasoned, not overly salty or mushy.

For a first-time, the best advice is to follow the directions. This does not mean "I followed the recipe exactly except I subbed .... " but EXACTLY.

There is a great deal of difference between 1/2 cup of table salt and 1/2 cup of kosher salt. And there is also a difference between brands, 1/2 cup of Diamond is not the same amount as 1/2 cup of Morton kosher salt. (The size and density of the salt crystals is not the same.) If your brine recipe calls for a particular type or brand of kosher salt then use that type and brand. Here are a couple of articles to start. You can google "Brine Turkey" and come up with hundreds more. Cooks Illustrated and Alton Brown's recipes are popular, as is Alice Water's.

The LA Times: A more flavorful dry-brine. (This the same technique used for Zuni Roast Chicken.)

SF Chronicle: Cooks share Thanksgiving (scroll down for Best Way Brined Turkey).

Embarrassing food question. Need help with foods I love.

If pasta plain causes you problems, try talking to your doctor about wheat/gluten intolerance. Wheat & gluten can hide in food as an additive. If you have a very low tolerance then even something like soy sauce could cause you problems.

Dessert sauce for gingerbread

Whipped cream with a hint of orange .... a few drops Boyaijan Orange Oil is perfect ...

Best apples for baking?

The Boston Globe food pages has a timely article on this topic ... it has a section on apple varieties and their best uses.

More on Wines............

I personally find NA wines far too fruity & sweet - so I use that to my advantage and use them in sangria. My non-drinking friends and kids like it.

pizza dough

I'm sorry @climbhiak but that attitude is just wrong and is what keeps many people out of the kitchen. The idea that it is too hard or too time consuming to eat good food made at home is far too prevalent and is neither true or good for us.

Excellent pizza can be made in a couple of hours using ingredients available to anyone at a moderately good grocery store. A light hand with great ingredients -- good olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh veggies, and yes, dried yeast -- can be made by just about anyone who is interested enough to try. Will it be like the best wood-fired pizza from Naples? No. But it will still be damn good -- certainly better than "just ok."

Peter Reinhart has a great recipe for pizza dough and so does Cook's Illustrated, just to name two. You can find them on the internet.

Restaurants in Half Moon Bay, CA

Cafe Gibraltar -- Mediterranean. Really good food. Reservations recommended.

Pasta Moon -- Italian. Really good food. Reservations recommended.

Cetrella's -- Mediterranean. Pricey but good. Service has been up & down. Unique (for the coastside) cheese cave.

Sam's Chowder House -- seafood. On the beach with great views of Half Moon Bay. Food's good. Noiser, more casual than either Gibraltar, Cetrella or Pasta Moon.

Mezza Luna -- Italian. Less expensive than Pasta Moon, more casual.

Ketch Joanne -- seafood. Casual place, on the water. Lots of fried stuff. Always busy on the weekend.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. -- brew pub. Beer is good. Food is ok -- personally I think it is pricey for the quality but it is a popular destination. Great outdoor space on the water.

Chez Shea - they call it "international organic" -- downtown. Looks tiny but there is a patio in back so if it looks full, check out back for a seat. Great place for lunch. Good food.

Garden Deli & Cafe at the San Benito House -- downtown, the sandwich place, not bar/restaurant next door. Great place for sandwiches. Grab some lunch and head for the beach or eat in the garden.

For Pizza -- It's Italia is good. But you'll find better pizza in the city. The SF Chronicle used to have a column -- see here for Slice's take and links.

If I had to pick only one -- for dinner I'd say Gibraltar. Emphasis on local ingredients, really good food. They have a very reasonable prix-fixe menu weeknights if eating early is ok. Check out their website for details.

For lunch -- a toss-up depending on your plans. Wanna go to the beach -- grab sandwiches from San Benito. For sit down lunch and a stroll downtown -- Chez Shea or It's Italia. For a beer and walk around the harbor -- HMB Brewing or Ketch Joanne or Sam's.

Wine, cider and beer brewing supplies

William's Brewing is very reliable and has a substantial inventory. You need it, they have it.

They sell two types of home-brewery kits: Basic and Complete. The Basic version contains the essentials; you need to have a kettle to serve as your brew pot (3-5 gallon capacity.) The Complete includes a brew pot plus some other accessories that will make brewing easier (like a wort chiller.)

Olive Oil Help

You might consider, *gasp*, not using EVOO for all of your cooking. Use a a budget friendly vegetable oil for frying/sauteing and use the $$ you save for a good olive oil to use where it really counts -- as a condiment, in uncooked sauces and dressings.

Cooking shows

FWIW, you can buy some of the old French Chef episodes on DVD at See here. PBS also sells some Jaques Pepin, Joanne Weir, ATK, and Anthony Bourdain titles.

Subsitutes in food

There is a great website called The Cook's Thesarus that describes ingredients and offers suggestions for substitutes. It often has pictures to aid in identifying ingredients. See here.

For your two queries it suggests:

Zucchini Substitutes: cocozelle OR yellow squash OR pattypan squash (especially for stuffing) OR chayote squash (not raw; takes longer to cook; excellent for stuffing; peel first) OR eggplant OR cucuzza OR carrots OR pumpkin (This is a great substitute for grated zucchini in breads and cakes)"


Blueberry Substitutes: huckleberry (larger seeds and tarter, otherwise very close substitute) OR juneberry OR red currant OR raisins (in baked goods) OR dates (in baked goods) OR bananas (in baked goods)

I confess, I don't get suggestion to substitute banana for blueberries in baked goods ...

$29.95 for America's Test Kitchen website?

I find the online index invaluable, there is web-only content, so there is added value, there are videos, which last time I checked I couldn't get in the print version and an archive of recipes, product testing and equipment testing dating to 1992.

And I *love* the detailed, investigative recipes that I cannot get from the free places -- that's the value I am paying for in the first place.

For even $30 a year ... that is helluva bargain. I'll keep renewing.

Quinoa - Now That I Bought It.....

I once found recipe for quinoa stuffed acorn squash that had a real "Thanksgiving" flair -- squash, dried cranberries, nuts -- that made a great side for the meat-eaters and a great entree for my vegan guests. I have lost track of the recipe but I expect you could design one of your own by looking for a good stuffed squash recipe and substituting quinoa.

And NPR has an article with some recipes here.

Mixed Review: Barefoot Contessa Homemade Marshmallow Mix

I make marshmallows in a teflon coated aluminum pan all the time --- the kind one can get in a grocery store. You just need to use plenty of corn starch/confectioners sugar to dust it. Spray lightly with an unflavored cooking spray and dust heavily, especially the corners. The marshmallows won't absorb it and they will release easily.

A good old-fashioned electric knife makes cutting them easier too. Keep lots of starch/sugar on hand to dust the newly exposed edge. I toss the cut ones into a strainer set over a plate to catch the extra starch.

And if you haven't tried them, strawberry marshmallows are sublime. Search for the recipe on e-gullet. I think Martha Stewart might have a variation too.

Pumpkin as a substitute

I've not heard of pumpkin used this way but applesauce and prune purees are used. I think their flavor is a little more neutral. See here for guidelines.

If you google "fruit puree fat substitute" you'll get lots more references.

What are your favorite websites for finding recipes?

Cook's Illustrated and Fine Cooking are my go to websites. Both are subscription sites but with the subscription you get access to their entire archive (10 plus years) and some web-only content. I find them worth the every cent.

For cuisine specific foods, I look first at Rick Bayless for Mexican. For Italian, it is usually Lydia Bastianich. If I can't find it there I look for something from Mario Batali on FoodTV or using google.

There are a lot of clips from Julia Child's shows can be found on PBS' website. If I recall something from one of her shows I'll look there. And of course there's FoodTV for recipes from Ina Garten, Bobby Flay and some others.

Savory Dried Fig Applications

Try substituting them in Jacque Pepin's Pork Tenderloin with Port & Prunes ... if you have any fig vinegar, that would be good too.

from Jacques & Julia Cooking at Home

Soak 6 oz prunes in hot water, drain, then soak in 1/2 cup port. Cut 2 small pork tenderloins into 6 chunks each and season with s&p. Brown well on all sides in a skillet, then remove from skillet and place in 200 degree oven to finish cooking. In skillet over medium heat, saute 2 Tbsp minced shallots; deglaze with 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar. Add 2/3 cup stock, port, and prunes; boil to reduce until slightly thickened. Stir in 1 Tbsp ketchup and 1 Tbsp black currant jam. Remove meat from oven and add juices to sauce; simmer to thicken. Pour sauce over pork.


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