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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Change Is in the Air in Pasadena

Pasadena fans of the delicious Malaysian fare at Kuala Lumpur, take note: It’s being sold, and will be replaced by a Green Street Tavern in the new year.

Meanwhile, Central Park has opened in the space that was formerly Soda Jerks. It hardly looks like the same place, with black-and-white photos of movie stars everywhere and a sun room near the front of the restaurant.

Strangely, near the hostess station are menus for aggressively mediocre places like Wild Thyme, Shakers, and Diner on Main in Alhambra.

kotatsu reports having a very nice lunch, though, with tuna nicoise salad (baby greens, potatoes, tomatoes, in a good dressing) and chicken caprese sandwich (on focaccia bread with caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar) and broccoli salad, which is more exciting than it sounds. The one quibble is that the tomatoes in the salad taste like they’d been refrigerated (a little mealy).

There’s a good variety of stuff on the menu: pasta, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and so on, and at lunch nothing is more than $10.

Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Restaurant [Pasadena-ish]

69 W. Green St., Pasadena

626-577-5175

Locater

Central Park Cafe [Pasadena-ish]

219 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

626-449-4499

Map

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Kuala Lumpur in Pasadena being sold

nice lunch at Central Park in Pasadena!

Dining Is Bittersweet at Camden House

The French chef at Camden House definitely knows his business, says RicRios. Heirloom tomato and burrata salad, and foie gras with pineapple, are wonderful starters. Seared ahi tuna and osso buco with spaetzle are very good. For dessert, the apple tart is nice, but the crepes are to die for.

The beautiful bar and main room, though, are mostly empty on a Friday night.

“Like Le Dome, like Norman’s, Camden House is a place that leaves you very satisfied food-wise and at the same time with a sad note, the feeling that demise is imminent, due to some kind of act of God you can’t do much about.”

Burrata salad, $12; foie gras, $16; ahi $27; osso buco $32; apple tarte $9; crepes $8.

Camden House [Beverly Hills]

430 N. Camden Dr., at Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills

310-285-9848

Locater

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Camden House

“Fattening Up” Milk

What’s a hound to do when there’s only skim milk and heavy cream on hand, and the cake calls for half and half? Or the family rice pudding recipe calls for whole milk and you’ve only got 2%? Faced with the rice pudding conundrum, Lisa M added a tablespoon of butter to her quart of milk, and was happy with the results. Here are some other suggestions:

It’s possible to enrich milk by reducing it, says PDXpat; removing some of the water will increase the butterfat content by volume, but will also increase the protein content, which may affect the way milk behaves in certain recipes.

Keeping cream or half and half on hand can also help. Karl S shares this formula, which shows how to “fatten up” skim milk to equal higher-fat dairy products:

To approximate 1 cup of higher-fat dairy, add the following to 1 cup of skim milk:

1% milk: 1.5 tsp. heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. light cream, or 2 Tbsp. half and half
2% milk: 1 Tbsp. heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. light cream, or 3 Tbsp. half and half
whole milk: 2 Tbsp. heavy cream, 3 Tbsp. light cream, or 4 Tbsp. half and half
half and half: 5 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. heavy cream or 5 oz. light cream
light cream: 9 Tbsp. heavy cream

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Weird question: Can I ‘fatten up’ milk?

Best Pie Pans for Browned Bottom Crusts

Overwhelmingly, chowhounds agree that clear Pyrex pie plates are your best choice for achieving a well-browned bottom crust. Since it is clear tempered glass, you can easily see the color of your crust, unlike with a solid metal pan. “A pie is not done until you can see a deep brown bottom,” states Becca Porter. You may need to cover the top crust or edges of your pie crust with foil or a pie crust shield to keep it from overbrowning before the bottom is done. Pyrex pie plates are ubiquitous–they’re available in almost any kitchenware department and many supermarkets–and inexpensive, at around $4 for a 9-inch pan.

Karl S says that an old-fashioned mid-century metal pie pan with a mesh bottom was the best ever for browning. The modern equivalent are Chicago Metallic perforated pie pans, which have holes in the bottom that allow the oven’s heat to flow freely around the bottom crust. Procrastibaker notes that Gourmet magazine chose these pans as best for browning.

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Best type of pie pan for browned crust

A Good Cup o’ Joe

Luwak has coffee brewing down to a science. He says there are two main factors that determine the outcome, “dilution” and “extraction.” The strength of the coffee relies on the coffee-to-water ratio–the dilution. The quality of flavor depends on extraction, which is determined by how fine the coffee is ground, how long it steeps, and by the quality of the water itself.

Start with good, fresh coffee beans. For drip coffee makers, grind them to a consistency that allows the water to run through in about 4 minutes. Less than 3 minutes and the coffee is liable to be weak, more than 5 minutes and it may become bitter tasting.

The method:

Measure 2 tablespoons per 6 fluid ounces of brewing water. Calculate how long it takes for the brew to finish dripping through the filter. (The last few drops taste awful; don’t wait for those.) If it takes much more than the 4 minutes, try a coarser grind. Less than 3 minutes, grind it finer. Adjust the grind setting, or count the seconds you’re grinding, to get it just right.

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The grind of coffee beans

Wickles

Wickles are called wickles because, supposedly, they are “wickedly delicious pickles.” They’re sort of dilly, garlicky and sweet, all at the same time. ipsedixit says they really punch up a sandwich of pulled pork, or even a banh mi. The company is based in the south, but Wickles have been spotted in Ohio and upstate New York, so they’re out there.

They can be ordered online. It took about 3 weeks for Pegmeister to receive hers, but they did arrive, and with a complimentary jar of relish as compensation for the wait.

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Wickles?

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Lingering Yeast Infection

As if it weren’t bad enough having to read blog entry after blog entry about the Jim Lahey no-knead bread recipe published last month in The New York Times, Mark Bittman is back, telling us even more about it (registration required).

The saturation of this recipe is deep and wide. According to Bittman, “In the last few weeks Jim Lahey’s recipe has been translated into German, baked in Togo, discussed on more than 200 blogs and written about in other newspapers. It has changed the lives (their words, not mine) of veteran and novice bakers.”

It’s such a simple recipe, he needs to come back and explain it again?

His pointers this time around are practically remedial:

SALT Many people, me included, felt Mr. Lahey’s bread was not salty enough. Yes, you can use more salt and it won’t significantly affect the rising time.

YEAST Instant yeast, called for in the recipe, is also called rapid-rise yeast. But you can use whatever yeast you like.

As Bittman claimed in the original article (registration required), Lahey’s technique may be the best thing since sliced bread, but please, its 15 minutes are done. We’re over it, we’re bored with it, now we’re just getting annoyed by it.

And now I can’t even go knead some bread to let off steam!

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