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shasta0610

Book Giveaway: Pastry Paris, Because Everything in Paris Looks Like Dessert

My favorite is chausson aux pommes! Just came back from Paris this weekend where I had the good fortune to eat far too many and walk enough to almost not feel guilty about it.

Did anyone just feel the Earthquake on the East Coast?

Nope. I live in NYC and was napping (score for a day off!). Maybe I'm a sound sleeper, maybe my building is just immune, or maybe it wasn't that bad here, but I didn't notice it at all. Ironically, I napped through the earthquake but woke up when my cell vibrated as my mom called me in a panic.

When my mom called my brother (who also lives in NYC) he said "Oh, I couldn't tell if it was a big truck or not." I think she panicked even more because she thought we were trying to hide some sort of imminent apocalypse from her, but it really wasn't that horrible here. My upstairs neighbor's couch delivery and the dept. of sanitation pickup probably cause more rattling. Not saying it wasn't bad elsewhere, but NYC pretty much looks like it does on every other Tuesday afternoon.

Can I freeze caramelized onions?

Thanks all! Looking forward to hearing Mr. Shasta's tales of canoe country camping when he gets back next week over some delicious onion dip instead of a hot stove!

Chinese candy must-haves?

Thanks for the suggestions/warnings/chuckles! I'll put out an APB on White Rabbit candy. And those lychee jelly cups sound amazing, candy or not-- if they come in less-than-3.4 ounce containers those could steal the show. Might be worth it to try either way-- worst case scenario is that Shanghai airport security confiscates them and gets a coconutty treat.

What to eat at Reading Terminal Market in Philly?

Oh and definitely something from Le Bus.

What to eat at Reading Terminal Market in Philly?

Old city coffee! My second favorite coffee place in the city.

SE Staff Picks: Our Favorite Food Souvenirs to 'Smuggle' Home

I've never had a problem bringing food back. Perhaps I just look trustworthy, but I've never even been searched at customs or asked for more than my passport. Coming through JFK they usually take a glance at my passport and then grunt that I'm okay to go. Last time I came back from France with an entire suitcase full of alcohol-- waaaay over the 3L limit.

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Freezer Bowls

I'm on the hunt for a freezer thermometer, although I can't adjust the temperature (ancient apartment freezer), but the thing is everything else I've put in there in the last few days--freezer packs, cookie dough, berries-- freezes completely solid quickly.

You can tell the freezer bowls aren't frozen solid though because when you pick them up the liquid inside sloshes around. So odd.

Cuisinart brand ice cream maker at Sur La Table?

I bought what I suspect is the same one (with the extra freezer bowl) last weekend at Williams-Sonoma because I had a gift card and decided to be impulsive. While I miss the pro-models of my pastry school/restaurant days, this is a really nice home model. I think I've made 4 batches of ice cream since Saturday, and all have turned out well. Everyone comments on how nice the ice cream's texture is, which is something I find problematic with a lot of home models. Plus, coming up into the summer months, homemade ice cream will be a real treat. I'd say go for it if you have the space and the gift card balance.

Kitchen Scale for baking -- really a necessity?

For home bakers doing mostly what you're doing now (quickbreads and cookies), you are probably fine without one. Your baking will likely be more consistent with a scale, but it isn't necessary. However, for finer pastries and breads (and more sophisticated or professional-oriented recipes), you may find it absolutely essential. Personally, as a pastry professional, I couldn't live without one. I still make my mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe with a cup-measure (she does it with a 100-year-old flour scoop), but for pretty much anything else, I use a scale. And I usually do it in grams, because it's more precise.

Obviously, baking does depend on the weather, oven type and temp accuracy, etc., which change every time you make a recipe, but the one thing you can control nearly 100% is consistent measurements. For more forgiving things, you can use volume measurements as long as you measure them in the same way (e.g. scoop the flour out and then fill the cup vs. scooping with the cup, etc.), but I'd be hesitant to use volume measurements for things like breads, finer cakes, or pastries. Certainly for candy and confections (my specialty), it's almost impossible to get consistent results without a scale.

Above all, though, home baking should be fun. If your baking is coming out to your liking and using a scale would make the experience less pleasant, then go with what you like.

Baking for the Office

Honestly, if you're already seeing issues of gender politics in your workplace (which isn't surprising given you work in a law firm), then I'd say try not to bring them to the forefront with something like baking outside of special occasions. I used to work as a research assistant for a state judge in MO, and I got every cheeky/condescending/downright sexist comment from attorneys that traipsed in and out of the courtroom (e.g. "does your daddy know you're here little lady?" "wouldn't you rather be at home with some cute kids to look after"), so I definitely feel your pain. But when I worked at a legal nonprofit, I baked for the office often. It was an extremely progressive organization with a lot of female employees and me liking to bake was just another thing people knew about me, just like they knew I let my phone ring twice before answering and would be most likely to reply to emails around 2am.

On the flipside, I bake for my boyfriend's office a lot. It's part of my job as a "finance wife/girlfriend" to be socially competent and likable without being threatening. As I now work in pastry, baking for them is a great way to be seen as the type of modern career-minded wife/girlfriend they all claim to want without seeming like I'm too much of a threat to his climb up the corporate ladder. A huge part of corporate life is making sure you have a good team behind you (be it your junior people or your wife) that you can praise and that everyone likes, but doesn't steal your thunder. Ask yourself if you're willing to play that "supporting actress" role in your office, or if you're after their thunder. Personally, I'd take the thunder.


Pizza in Missouri

In St. Louis, you should try Imo's, but be forewarned, it's neither pizza nor good food. It's...a creation unto itself. All through my high school years in St. Louis my friends and I lived on Racanelli's in the Loop and La Pizza at Delmar and Old Bonhomme. They're both NY-style pizza, and both very good. Pi and Fortel's are also good contenders, as mentioned above. Looking forward to seeing the results!

Where to Drink Coffee in Philadelphia

I was back in Philly visiting my alma mater this weekend (Lovers & Madmen-adjacent) and L&M was at the top of my must-eat/drink list. Great coffee, and a great addition to the neighborhood.

Drinking the Bottom Shelf: American Regional Lagers

Lion's Head, for sure. In my apartment senior year of college (in Philly) we had an entire fridge shelf and half a cabinet devoted to Lion's Head. Classy parties had Yuengling, but we were just fine slummin' it with Lion's Head. Plus, the proposed solutions for the little rebuses (rebi?) under the caps got more and asinine as the night went on. Unbeatable on charm, and didn't taste half bad.

Re: Yuengling, though, I don't know that it's all that widely distributed. I have a hard time finding it at any bar in NYC, to the point that friends from college will actually schedule meetups at bars reputed or known to carry it. Are people mostly finding it in stores, and if so, which ones?

Do you care if your leftovers sit out?

@Likeswords-- I also leave super-hot foods out for 1/2 hour to an hour so they're not heating up my rather small fridge, and that's fine. Conventional scientific wisdom is no more than 4 hours (although some state regulations require no more than 2) at room temp. But I wouldn't leave a meat sauce out all night then think that warming it up would undo whatever bacterial apocalypse erupted in that dark, moist, protein-rich environment.

Do you care if your leftovers sit out?

argh *lick. See, even my brain is trying to prevent such a gross idea from being launched into the internets.

Do you care if your leftovers sit out?

@cjblegen: "Those of you who say you have never gotten sick are pretty lucky. And just a tip: reheating it doesn't kill everything..." THIS.

Honestly folks, those food-handling requirements aren't just suggestions. There is a reason the government requires foodservice establishments to follow them (as someone with two food handlers certifications, I'd be happy to give you a rundown on the lovely consequences of eating food that's a breeding ground for microorganisms).

The fact that you haven't gotten sick doesn't mean you aren't seriously increasing your risk of making yourselves or your family very ill by leaving food out in the temperature danger zone for extended periods of time (more than 4 hours). And as mentioned above, reheating is not a cure-all. Especially if anyone in your family is in a high-risk group (pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems), it just isn't worth the risk.

I mean, you can like an NYC street and you probably won't die, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. And if you do it enough times, eventually something bad will happen.

I'm a vegetarian and my boyfriend will not eat vegetables :(

Oh, another thing my boyfriend really likes is "brinner" (a term he stole from Scrubs), i.e. breakfast for dinner. It can be pretty healthy if you keep the butter and cheese in check, it's cheap, and it's super easy. I usually do scrambled eggs (or egg whites), to which you can add cheese and/or veggies, wheat toast with natural PB or whole wheat pancakes with fruit, and sometimes hashbrowns and smoothies if I'm feeling really ambitious. You can customize the fruit with pancakes or smoothies to what he likes. You could also add chicken or other lean protein to his eggs, too, if he really wants meat in every meal.

If you want to get extra fancy, you could make a sandwich with the cooked chicken and fried egg or scrambled eggs with a little cheese. You could add roasted veggies to yours instead of the chicken and use whites to bring down the fat content.

I'm a vegetarian and my boyfriend will not eat vegetables :(

I feel for you...I moved in with my boyfriend about a year and a half ago, after dating for 3.5 years before that. I'm the main cook in the house because I have more time and culinary ability (I'm actually graduating from pastry school next week, so we're big dessert eaters, too). I am a vegetarian and he is a meat-eater to the core. The man can sniff out bacon from a mile away and as soon as he goes out with clients or on a business trip, it's steakhouse time. I had a leg up in that he was pretty open to the idea of new foods, but they definitely scared him. Tofu freaked him out massively. Now though, he goes out grocery shopping and comes home with a block of organic extra-firm, begging me to make roasted tofu with veggies.

I usually marinate it in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, thyme, a little honey, and salt and pepper, then roast at 400F with various veggies until done. You could make some of the pre-cooked chicken separately and make the marinade into a dipping sauce for it. If he likes the sauce, maybe he'd be more open to the similarly-flavored vegetables? Then you both have a base (the veg) to which you can add your preferred proteins. It seems like people have been knocking this method, but if your boyfriend won't eat vegetables (and you obviously aren't going to eat meat), you need to find a common denominator that you can both customize.

That being said, though, if he absolutely won't compromise, I think letting him fend for himself for a while might be the only way to go. You're not his mother and you're not obligated to cater to his stubborn behavior (not even giving you a suggestion?!). It's sad though, because eating the same meal or at least food that you've prepared to be eaten together, is a really strong bonding experience when you're living together. Meal planning is also a really good exercise in communication, budgeting, and compromise, so explain to him how important this issue is to you, and keep trying to find some common ground.

Keep us posted!

Your food budget

I've done $20/person/week-- junior year of college in Philadelphia, which my boyfriend and I now refer to as "beige year." We ate a lot of pizza bagels, potatoes, pasta, oatmeal, eggs, and cereal, with some frozen veggies thrown in...yeah, not pleasant, or healthy, but sometimes it's all you can do. Now it's hard to tell because I eat 3 meals a day at home/brought along, but he usually eats 3 meals a day at work during the week (some of which are comped as overtime meals), but eats at home on weekends if he isn't in the office. If I had to guess, I'd say I spend about 65 a week on all the food we eat that is prepared at home, which I think is pretty good for Manhattan (all due to the miracle of Trader Joe's).

Making a big deal about special holidays

I am definitely a fan of Valentine's Day, but I always grew up celebrating it as a "for people you love" day and not a "this-must-be-the-most-romantic-day-ever-or-else" sort of holiday. My parents always made a fun/cheesy/cutesy celebration out of it for our whole family-- heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast, pink rice krispie treats, fancy dinner made by my dad (which was cute, because for all his good qualities, my dad is not a fantastic cook), etc. My dad brought home flowers for my mom and I and my brother and I made decorations with my mom.

Now my boyfriend and I celebrate similarly-- low stress but lots of love. There's no guilt about what we do or don't do because the expectations aren't for something mega-romantic/expensive. We just like spending time together, so we think about what we want to do that year that we might not have made time for yet and do it. This year he made Sunday brunch (albeit with a little help from me) and we're doing some wine tasting over a rented movie tonight because we're trying to expand our wine knowledge. Valentine's Day is just a good excuse to have some extra fun with people you love-- nothing wrong with that in my book.

Taste Test: Dark Chocolate

I love TJ's 72% pound plus. It's pretty easy to temper, which I appreciate...and I like the extra 1.7 ounces or so for...umm...checking its quality before I use it. Yeah, I'm going to go with that, rather than admitting that I am an uncontrollable chocoholic who can't restrain herself from nibbling.

Trader Joe's Suggestions?

Their chocolate is really great quality for the price, and they have great coffee in tons of varieties, all of which are inexpensive. I also often buy nuts, almond butter, dried fruits, cheese, JoeJoes (like Oreos), pizza dough, teas, bread, any of the snacks/candy above the freezers in the frozen aisle, olive oil, pasta, cereal, white cheddar and shells mac n cheese, yogurt, ridge-cut potato chips, crackers, and seltzer there. I have yet to have anything truly awful from TJ's (I'd say 95% of it, I'd buy again), so if something appeals to you, take a shot!

When you're all alone...

My boyfriend has been majorly tied up at work in the last 6 months, so I've been eating by myself 6 nights a week usually, which is very odd. I've started grocery shopping like a single person and eating like one, too. I used to make real dinners with proteins and vegetables and such, but today, I kid you not, I had tater tots with smoked gouda for dinner. And then I ate three chocolate chip cookies. When I'm feeling less lazy I'll make scrambled eggs and pasta, or sauteed tofu, but on the bad nights, tater tots, cereal, leftover cake, and popcorn have all been known to make prominent dinner appearances. But I often will have a glass or two of red wine, just to keep it classy...and hopefully undo some of the damage I've done to my arteries.

Recap: Top Chef All-Stars, Episode 9, Feeding Fallon

No comment on the musical outburst? That may have been my favorite part of the episode...or possibly the season.

Can I freeze caramelized onions?

Hey there SE-ers,

I had the good fortune to come across a bounty of onions this week (an onion-averse friend offered me the share from her CSA). Lucky us, Mr. Shasta loves onion dip, so I was thinking I'd make some. But, rather unfortunately, he's traveling for the next week and a half. I'd like to be able to throw the dip together quickly when he gets back without the fuss of caramelizing the onions, so could I do that part now and freeze them, or will it ruin the texture?

Thanks all!

Chinese candy must-haves?

My boyfriend is currently on a business trip to China. As a lover of all things sweet and a burgeoning chocolatier/confectioner, I'm always up for trying new candies, so I thought I'd ask him to bring home some treats if he gets a chance.

Is there anything I should definitely ask him to look for? Anything to avoid? Anything that will lead to a customs debacle?

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Freezer Bowls

Hey there SE-ers! A very puzzling thing happened in my culinary explorations this week, and I'm hoping some of you can figure out what the issue is. About a month ago, I bought a Cuisinart 1.5 qt ice cream maker with two freezer bowls. Since then, I've successfully made ice cream and sorbet about a dozen times.

All of a sudden, this week, the freezer bowls will not freeze even though I've left them in the freezer for days. It hasn't gotten dramatically warmer in my apartment in the last week; I've actually cleared things out of the freezer so I know it's not overloaded-- and other things I've put in the freezer have frozen solid in an hour or so; I haven't put the bowls in the dishwasher, just hot tap water; and they're in the back of the freezer.

I have no idea why they all of a sudden won't freeze-- anyone have any insights?

Suggestions for extra cranberries

Hey there, SE-ers.

I have quite a wonderful dilemma. In my chaotic pre-Thanksgiving shopping trip, I mis-read the weight on the cranberry packages (didn't buy my normal brand), and ended up with an extra 1.5lbs of cranberries!

Now as a cranberry lover, I'm not complaining. I've been thinking of several uses for them-- an extra loaf of cranberry bread, an extra cranberry sauce (already made cranberry-orange relish, but perhaps a ginger whole-berry sauce?), decorative cranberry strands-- but I'd love some more suggestions. Any cranberry favorites or traditions I should test out?

Thanks!

Lunch Conundrum!

Hi there fellow SE-ers! I am in desperate need of some suggestions for a healthy, portable lunch that I can take to school with me, so I thought I'd ask all you fine folks for a fresh perspective. I'm not a picky eater, but I do have a few slight logistical/nutritional issues:

1) I am a vegetarian

2) I don't have access to a fridge all morning, so the lunch can't be highly perishable (must be able to survive in a lunch box with an ice pack in a hot environment).

3) The lunch should contain some protein and veg, if at all possible (I am a pastry student, so many of my daily calories come from things my doctor would probably tell me aren't "nutritionally dense." Unfortunate, but sort of an occupational hazard).

4) Components should be primarily savory, although some fruit is okay (Being a pastry student means I eat sweet things all day, so at lunch I am in desperate need of something salty and savory).

I realize this is a somewhat challenging task, so thanks for all of your suggestions!

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