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popcornfordinner

5 Issues Craft Beer Drinkers Should Be Talking About

I wish more beer bars would offer half-pints. It's my favorite way to drink beer because I can sample more and they're always done before they get warm. Plus, it's easier to avoid overdrinking, since I could sample a half-pint of a high gravity beer and then switch to something with a lower AVB, instead of downing that whole 10% pint.

Terrible service experience -- how mad should I be?

I should add, the food was fantastic. That was the only redeeming quality for what was otherwise a terrible experience.

@likeswords, the other event was one of those, "drop in any time" sorts of things and a 5-minute walk from the restaurant. If check had been dropped and picked up in a timely fashion, we would have been fine. As for the wine, we weren't a group of wine-drinkers, so the two of us who were ordered by the glass. Really, until the last 20 minutes, ("WHERE DID SHE GO WITH OUR MONEY") it was more amusing than infuriating and that's when we spoke to the manager.

@erin_in_AR, I think I'll definitely send them an email, although I'm definitely gunshy about going back. And it clearly wasn't an off night -- other tables (not just the bloggers) were being served promptly. We just felt like an afterthought. I really think that they scaled back on the server handling the blogger and gave his tables to our server, who couldn't handle them.

Need killer post-half marathon breakfast in Charlotte, NC

Where are you staying? Harvest Moon is good in Uptown and there are some good places in other neighborhoods, as well. Crepe Cellar in NoDa is my go-to.

Charlotte NC

The Penguin is a dive bar with Charlotte's best burgers (at least through Oct. 24).

Amelie's French Bakery is good for desserts and a relatively quick breakfast, but it's a must-visit.

What part of town will you be in?

Oh, and a note about Price's -- it IS a must-visit, but it's cash only and carryout. And they close at 6.

Is Vodka Dead?

I think vodka's just returning to its natural place in the bartender's arsenal. I don't think vodka's ever going to go away, but I'm glad that other spirits are getting their due attention.

Need help picking a US foodie travel destination!

If I were you, I'd do a Southern road trip and hit Memphis, New Orleans, Birmingham and all the little towns in between.

Also, Atlanta is a great, underrated food town and really young and inexpensive, too.

Food Network's New Offerings

I want to say Jeff Corwin is a vegetarian, so that show could be interesting. But I could be making that up...

And I will never say no to more Alton Brown on my TV.

Domino's Launches Line of Bread Bowl Pastas

I've eaten some fairly questionable dishes in my life, but this crosses a line. If it weren't 20 days late, I'd have thought it was an April Fool's Joke.

Alice Waters Agrees with Me: President Obama Needs to Try Some Beets

Clearly the problem is that the leader of the free world, a man with a reputation for loving good food, has never had beets properly prepared. If only someone would educate this man in how beets are supposed to taste! Surely that will change his mind!

I respect what Alice Waters had done for the slow food movement, but the level of arrogance in that piece blows my mind.

what do YOU substitute to make something healthier?

If something is going to be a treat, like cookies, I don't try to make it healthier.

But for everyday dinners and such, I try to use whole grains instead of white ones whenever possible and beef up dishes with lots of grains and veggies instead of other things. And I use Parmesan cheese pretty often, because you can get a lot of flavor without using a lot.

In theory [blank] sounded like a good idea...reality, however...

I went through a phase where I tried to cook Asian food intuitively and thought, "I like the taste of red curry paste and I can handle a lot of heat" so I combined a can of tomato paste, a tablespoon of peanut butter and half a jar of curry paste.

I ordered a pizza. And went on to perfect the recipe into some kind of tomato/curry/peanut/coconut sauce that's not too bad, although I'm sure anyone with a working knowledge of any type of Asian cuisine would cringe.

@dbcurrie: My college roommates were always grossed out when I'd make soup when I was sick. Take one can of Progresso chicken noodle soup, add a can of green chiles and season liberally with hot sauce and red wine vinegar. It sounds disgusting to me now, but it works wonders when I'm sick.

Your Cookbook Arsenal

In our kitchen, we turn to Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home," Abel & Cole's "Cooking Outside the Box" and Fannie Farmer. And the Food Lover's Companion, which comes in handy with the Abel & Cole cookbook, since it's a British cookbook and calls for crazy things like rocket (arugula) and swedes (rutabagas)

Has Anyone Had Sister Schubert's Rolls or Marshall's Biscuits?

Every Southerner I know is proud to serve Sister Schubert's rolls. The orange rolls are hard to find but so good I dream about them sometimes.

TV Cooking vs. Real Cooking

The question is, does anyone think cooking shows are real?

I've seen Julia Child make plenty of cheese souffles without the cheese, but I'd rather see her omit the cheese in a perfect souffle than see a fallen one with cheese. A fallen souffle might make me feel better about my kitchen mishaps, but it won't teach me anything.

What Do You Put on Your Biscuit?

Jam, butter, strawberries and whipped cream, sausage gravy, sausage, fried chicken...

There really isn't anything that doesn't go with biscuits.

Trichinosis in Free-Range Pigs: Cause for Concern, or Sloppy Editing and Writing?

jmf605: I was actually referring to the link between indiscriminate antibiotic use in pork factory farms and the rise of drug-resistant staph.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/opinion/15kristof.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/magazine/16wwln-lede-t.html?_r=1

Trichinosis in Free-Range Pigs: Cause for Concern, or Sloppy Editing and Writing?

mphuges: The study was sponsored by The National Pork Board and measured the presence of antibodies, not actual toxins.

More detailed analyses:
http://www.livablefutureblog.com/2009/04/smoked-“bacon”-and-mirrors/

http://www.foodpolitics.com/2009/04/is-free-range-pork-more-contaminated-than-industrial-pork/

Trichinosis in Free-Range Pigs: Cause for Concern, or Sloppy Editing and Writing?

I'd rather eat well-done free-range pork than get a MRSA infection.

Who loves Anne Burrell?!

She is one of the few people on the Food Network whose show I actually watch (the others being Alton, Ina and Aida*). The growling is weird, her hair is crazy, but she gets SO excited and I actually learn from her. I particularly love learning about how things work in a real restaurant kitchen. Plus, I love, love, LOVE her on Iron Chef.

*I'm still not sure about her or her show's format, but her cohost is adorable!

What is calorie a measure of?

The makeup of your food also contributes to its caloric content. A gram of fat provides 9 calories of energy, while 1 gram of a carbohydrate or protein provides only 4. Likewise, you'd need to burn 9 calories to balance out that one gram of fat, while you'd only need to burn off 4 to balance a carb or protein.

Making Chicken Salad and Seafood Salad healthier.

I'd add more veggies to the salads you have -- and maybe even more chicken/seafood -- to balance out the mayo-to-protein ratio.

But, yes, I have to echo everyone else's "make your own." I make my chicken salad with half mayo and half dijon mustard. Occasionally I'll use ranch dressing instead of mustard, but that's not really a healthful sub. Just a tasty one.

the best cookbook for beginners

I'll bajillionth the recommendation for Bittman's book. I don't have it, but I gave it to my brother, who's been known to set water on fire (no, I have no idea) and every few weeks, I get an email saying, "I made X from your cookbook and it was SO GOOD!"

I'd also include a copy of the Food Lover's Companion. It's been an invaluable cooking tool for me. A great dictionary of ingredients -- including British names -- and conversion tools, substitutions. Can't live without it.

http://www.amazon.com/Lovers-Companion-Barrons-Cooking-Guide/dp/0764112589

Disintegrating turkey burgers?

I used regular ground turkey, but no binder or olive oil, so I guess it needed some extra fat or something.

The grind on this meat was so fine, it was almost like a mousse. Burgers were good, though.

A Lousy Tipper Walks Into a Bar ...

My standard: Open a tab and tip 20 percent, $5 minimum. Tip more if I've had more to drink, tip less if I think the bartender's ignoring* me. On busy nights like St. Patrick's or New Year's, I'll tip 100 percent.

*I've only really ever had to do this at one bar and it's since been shut down because the bartenders were selling coke. So, uh, I don't think they missed my tips.

Do you let guests know they're eating raw eggs?

I agree that you should have warned your guests. If you thought they would have balked, I would have served a different dressing. You could also use coddled eggs or pasteurized egg substitute, ie egg beaters.

Terrible service experience -- how mad should I be?

We had some out-of-town guests over the weekend and we took them to one of our favorite restaurants on Saturday night. We made a reservation for 7 p.m. and had plans to drop by another event nearby that ran from 8-10. Plenty of time, right?

From the moment we were seated, service was abysmal. We had to ask for menus. We had to ask for a wine list. We had to ask to place our order. Two of us sat with empty wine glasses through the entree and no one stopped by to ask if we wanted more. Our waitress finally made it by to check on the food AFTER THE TABLE HAD BEEN BUSSED. When it was time to get the check, we sat for 45 minutes between asking for the check and finally signing the slips; during the time she had our cards, she sat another table and served them their first course.

We did talk to the manager, who gave us a perfunctory apology, but by that point, our night was ruined. We walked out at 10 p.m., three hours after we walked in, completely missing the other event.

To rub salt in the wound, while all this was going on, another table of bloggers was tweeting about their fantastic experience and the restaurant was reposting pictures of the party posing with the chef and their server. At that point I lost it and called them out on Twitter -- something I NEVER do. So far, I've gotten apologies from the food cart affiliated with the restaurant, but nothing from the restaurant itself.

So here's my question: How mad should I be? And what could/should the restaurant have done to fix the situation?

Substitution for Marshmallow fluff?

Growing up in New England, whoopie pies were traditional Fourth of July fare and I've got some time on my hands and want to make my own. The problem? I live in the South and Marshmallow Fluff is impossible to find. The Marshmallow Fluff recipe (ssh, it's my grandmother's secret... don't tell!) calls for a 2:2:1 ratio of Fluff:confectioner's sugar:butter. Is there a substitution (marshmallow cream?) I can make for the Fluff that will keep it nice and, well, fluffy?

What do you do when a restaurant's food is just bad?

We went to a new restaurant the other night and the food was just... bad. Nothing was improperly prepared, but nothing was good, either. Every time our waitress checked on us, we told her it was fine, because technically, nothing was WRONG. It was exactly the way the kitchen (and Sysco) intended it.

I put something on twitter, and the restaurant replied, wanting to know how to improve. I really don't know what to say -- the entire concept of the restaurant is flawed and everything is fundamentally bad. The thing is, I genuinely want them to succeed--the restaurant's in my neighborhood and the owners also own my favorite pizza place.

What should I do?

Chicken packet disaster

I attempted making this chicken today with disastrous results.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/05/chicken-breasts-in-foil-with-tomatoes-olives-parmesan-recipe.html

After 8 minutes on high, the oil in my pan was smoking so much my smoke detector went off, but the chicken was still raw in the middle. I finished it off in the oven, but I'm wondering why my timing was so off. Tasted good, though.

And I'm worried I ruined my pan... It looked the Exxon/Valdez disaster when I was done.

Disintegrating turkey burgers?

I made turkey burgers last night and they totally disintegrated on the grill. They were really flimsy and squishy when I was packing them. I used Trader Joe's ground turkey and I think the grind was too fine, but are there any suggestions for how I can prevent this in the future?

Dinner Tonight: Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht

The brilliance of this soup, besides the shocking color, is how deeply flavored it is with very little fat (just a few tablespoons needed to coat the chunks of roasted beet and potato). That's all thanks to a hot oven and the complex sweetness of roasted beets (If you're stuck on childhood memories of the pickled stuff, this might change your mind). More

Cold-Processed Shrub

This recipe makes about 20 to 24 ounces of shrub syrup, enough to make anywhere from 10 to 20 drinks, depending on how much syrup you use per drink. Store it for up to a year in your fridge. The acid and sugar will preserve the syrup and keep it tasting bright and fresh. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Pâte à Choux

Pâte à choux (pronounced pat-ah-choo) is the paste-like dough used for making the crispy shells of cream puffs, éclairs, gougères, and profiteroles. Choux relies solely upon steam trapped inside the dough to make it rise, creating large, cavernous pockets for delicious fillings. Since steam is the critical element, the technique used for making pâte à choux is designed to develop elasticity in the dough (to expand and create pockets) while maximizing moisture (to generate steam when baking). Come learn how to make them! More

The Food Lab: Real Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine

When I say ice cream, I mean the real deal: Ice cream that's rich, smooth and creamy on the spoon. Ice cream that melts slowly into a luscious, tongue-coating custard. The kind of badass ice cream that makes lesser people feel guilty for eating it. The kind of ice cream worth getting out of bed in the middle of the night for. I mean real ice cream. My goal this week: Keep the ice cream, lose the machine. More

Dinner Tonight: Tortilla Soup

The real pleasures of tortilla soup come with the garnishes: the smooth coolness of avocado, the smoky chew of dried chiles, the burst of cilantro, the crunch of cabbage. Add all that to a golden, chickeny broth, tinged with tomatoes and the mellow heat of toasted chiles, and you have a restorative meal to last through these remaining weeks of winter doldrums. More

Dinner Tonight: Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos

I just didn’t want to leave the house. It took me roughly eight hours to get home from weekend trip to New York (involving two canceled flights, six hours of delays, and two airlines), and I returned home tired and beaten. I had no idea what food I had at home, or whether any of it was still fresh. But I knew I wasn’t going to set one foot out the front door. It was time to improvise. More