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Need help choosing Detroit-area restaurant gift

Thanks to both of you--Forest Grill it is! I'll have to check it out myself next time I'm up there...

Jan 31, 2012
LindaMc in Great Lakes

Need help choosing Detroit-area restaurant gift

I'm from the Detroit area but haven't lived there for over 20 years. My family is still there, and I want to give my sister and her husband, who have been through a rough time lately, a nice dinner out.

They live in Pleasant Ridge but like to go out downtown and elsewhere in the area. They're not exactly food-obsessed people, but they appreciate a good meal. He likes meat, she likes seafood. I'm looking for a nice, cosseting atmosphere, nothing too formal.

I had considered Cork, which is around the corner from their house, but the reviews seem kind of "meh" and they are not big wine drinkers. Am now considering Roast downtown and the Forest Grill and Tallulah in B'ham, but am open to other suggestions too.

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Jan 30, 2012
LindaMc in Great Lakes

How to spend a free Fri and Sat in SF--wander or plan?

Thanks everyone--very helpful!

Linda

Apr 03, 2009
LindaMc in San Francisco Bay Area

How to spend a free Fri and Sat in SF--wander or plan?

My husband and I will be in SF next week Thurs-Sat. We live in DC and NYC and like to do a lot of walking when we travel, while either noshing along the way or meandering to a destination. I also love food shopping in different cities. We've been to SF several times and love Zuni Cafe (having learned about it years ago on CH!); I was there on business about a year and a half ago and had a great dinner at Incanta (I think it is called) in the Noe Valley.

We are staying near Union Square. I will be working all day Thursday, we are having dinner at Zuni Friday night and we're flying out from the Oakland airport on the redeye Saturday night.

The only item on the itinerary on this point, other than the Zuni dinner, is the farmers' market Saturday morning at Ferry Plaza. Worthwhile? Spring has been a long time coming here in the East, and I am dying for fruit and veg that are not apples and roots (even if I'm mostly looking).

I'm looking for recommendations on what else to do Friday before Zuni and Saturday after the market. We will not have a car but are happy to walk long distances and use transit. We like pretty much everything food-wise including carts and trucks. I love vegetables but find Alice Waters off-putting. Re restaurants, price is not an issue as much as vibe--I am looking for casual and relaxed, not overly precious.

All suggestions gratefully received!

Apr 01, 2009
LindaMc in San Francisco Bay Area

Heritage Turkeys

In my experience heritage birds have more taste. I wouldn't call it gaminess, but then again I like game. The best turkey I've ever had was a Red Bourbon from a vendor at my farmers' market, and it was a smash hit, including with the 3-year-old crowd.

Re fresh v. frozen, when I get turkeys from my market vendor, they are generally frozen. Since I have to pick them up on Saturday or Sunday, it's not a problem to let them thaw. I think any marginal impact on texture etc is more than offset by the much better taste and quality of the meat (I would say this for chickens as well).

Good luck!

Oct 18, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Cake Balls?! Heard of them? Have any tips?

A couple of years ago I took a course at the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park. In the shop there, the most popular item, if memory serves, was a bag of treats made of leftover brownies mashed up with butter and a lot of rum and rolled into balls. The rum gave them a surprisingly good shelf life. This sort of thing could probably be dipped in melted chocolate, but that might be overkill...they were incredibly rich without it. Not my cup of tea, but I can see how they would appeal to the chocolate fan.

Sep 06, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Mayo-Free Tuna?

I had a great panini a couple of months ago with olive-oil packed tuna, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers. I think it would also be good on non-grilled hearty bread.

My favorite Thai restaurant has an appetizer I've never seen in another Thai place--it seems to be canned tuna, slivers of ginger, slices of scallion, and thai basil. No binder. Really tasty.

Sep 06, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

New Bread Books and some Old Articles

I would!

The sort of experimentation that you obviously engage in with your bread baking is the best kind of training I can imagine. I am a keen baker who enjoys making puff pastry and croquembouche, but for some reason bread seems more mysterious and intimidating.

Sep 06, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

New Bread Books and some Old Articles

Thanks, Father K! Very helpful. I have tried to work the seam thing on the BittLay bread, but the result is always really blobby. I don't mind when we're just eating it at home, but I wouldn't mind giving the gift of bread once in a while, and I feel a little self-concious about the aesthetics of some of my loaves.

The whole oven-spring thing seems to elude me too. My BittLay loaves (that's all I've made since the recipe appeared in the Times) don't seem to rise too much. I usually bake them in a 5q Le Creuset (although I am intrigues by your flower pot method). Once in a while they seem to rise pretty well, but usually they're pretty homely. I wonder if I'm letting the dough overrise? I've been going almost 3 hrs for the second rise, but maybe I should re-think that.

Not that I'm actually complaining--they always taste great, and this bread (I usually make it with 1/3 whole wheat flour and the rest KA bread or Euro "Artisan" flour) has finally weaned my husband off the spongy white stuff!

Frankly, Father K, I think you should HOST a workshop, especially since I also live in Washington and would be the first to sign up!

Sep 05, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

New Bread Books and some Old Articles

Many thanks as always for your bread insights, Father Kitchen! I am not as ambitious, though I do make the BittLay bread at least once a week. Given your expertise on this and other breads, can you give me any pointers on scoring the loaf?! I have a little lame from Sur la Table, but it never really seems to get the job done...

Sep 04, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Patrick O'Connell's Oatmeal Cookie recipe

Hey, Janet, if you make the Post recipe and it does (or does not) approximate IALW, please post! I stayed at the Inn once a couple of years ago and the memory of those cookies remains vivid. I have clipped the Post recipe but not tried it yet.

Thanks!

Aug 28, 2007
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Cleaning the food processor bowl?

I think the manual said not to, and the bowl of my previous one got really hacked up by my doing that (among other things). And it's such a fiddly little space I'm not sure if the dishwasher spray would get it. But it's worth a try.

I'm going to stop at SLT on my way home one day this week and see if they have any helpful suggestions...

Jul 09, 2007
LindaMc in Cookware

Cleaning the food processor bowl?

I don't use a food processor all that often, but I recently splashed out (with a Sur La Table gift card) on a big KitchenAid model after using the mini-model (5 C) for years, until the top broke.

I made my first batch of pesto of the season over the weekend, and somehow there was pesto in the handle of the bowl! Despite wasting gallons of water and dish soap, I could not get it completely clean.

Any ideas?!

Many thanks in advance,

LindaMc

Jul 09, 2007
LindaMc in Cookware

Soft polenta

The Zuni method works great--v high ratio of water to cornmeal (4:1 if I remember correctly; use coarse grind such as Bob's Red Mill), not to much stirring, can be held in a double boiler (or jerry-rigged stand-in) for hours.

Dec 28, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Not doing turkey or ham for Thanksgiving?

Enjoy! I may or may not have a turkey (it's a long story), and my plan B is rabbit.

Nov 21, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Bittman's No Knead bread is out of the oven - anyone else?

Do you think you could do a half-recipe in a small Le Creuset? We're a 2-person household and while I want to try recipe in its pristine state the first time (this weekend), I was wondering what to do about the amout of yeast in a half-recipe.

Nov 15, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Of Lamb and Beans

Would also love to see the cassoulet recipe. I'm at linda dot mcintyre at gmail dot com.

I just ate lunch and, after reading this post, I'm already hungry again!

Nov 15, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Goose me for Thanksgiving

I love goose. There IS a ton of tasty fat. A technique that has worked very well for me, from an article in the NY times about 8 years ago or so, is as follows: The day before you are cooking the goose, prick the skin all over with a sharp little skewer (just go into the fat, try to avoid the meat). Boil a big pot of water and lower the holey goose into it for about a minute (I do this twice, once on each side). You'll see fat streaming out the holes but you will have removed huge chunks of it and there will be plenty left.

Put on a rack in a roasting pan, and let sit uncovered overnight in the fridge. Roast as usual.

Enjoy!

Nov 14, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Bittman's No Knead bread is out of the oven - anyone else?

Please post when you try the olives! When will you add them--right at the start of the process?

Nov 14, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

First Chef's Knife?

I would actually respectfully suggest a bigger knife than this--8 or even 10 inches. I got a 10" Henckels chef knife (I like a very heavy knife for control, and I have very small hands) after taking a knife skills class (at L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda). The instructor recommended getting as big a knife as you're comfortable with, and, now that I am using the proper technique, I would agree. I used to use a smaller knife but for regular chopping--even small things such as shallot or garlic--I always use the big one.

Definitely go to a Sur la Table or W-S and hold a bunch of them to see what's most comfortable to you.

And buy a steel at the same time, and use it each time you use your knife!

Nov 14, 2006
LindaMc in Cookware

Festive vegetables?

I'm preparing for my annual holiday party, a drinks, hors d'oeurves and sweets sort of affair. My boss was asking hopefully whether there would be a lot of vegetable dishes. Hhhhmmmmmmm....there will be lots of olives and cornichons etc, and I was thinking of doing a roasted eggplant and/or roasted pepper dip, but I find crudites kind of depressing--so few people eat them, and in my opinion raw veggies often just don't taste very good (and I don't like creamy white dip). But obviously, I aim to please!

Any ideas for festive and creative vegetable-intensive party dishes, preferably ones that can be made a day or two in advance? They don't have to be vegan or even strictly vegetarian.

Many thanks in advance!

Nov 14, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Oatmeal--What do you put on yours (besides brown sugar)?

I love the savory ideas on this thread. I don't like sugar in oatmeal but I often add dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts or walnuts.

Nov 07, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Help me decipher my gingerbread disaster!

Very interesting. I think I could have overbeaten, since I was not monitoring the KitchenAid as closely as I might have, and the recipe calls for the whisk attachment rather than the paddle which seems as if it would exacerbate this danger.

And it WAS a weird weather day--rainy and warm in the morning, while I was baking it became sunny, dry, and cold.

Oct 30, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Help me decipher my gingerbread disaster!

Nothing is impossible but I am 99.999 percent certain I did not do this in this instance (because I have done this sort of thing before and was being especially mindful). The coffee-soda mix looked the same as ever, and nothing untoward happened when I blended it all together. Until it was in the oven...

Oct 30, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Help me decipher my gingerbread disaster!

No, I don't have any self-rising flour. But come to think of it, I did run out of AP flour and had to use a smidge of bread flour (about 1/4-1/3 C out of a total of 2 1/2 C. Could this have made a difference, I wonder?

It actually tasted good despite its unseemly appearance, but it's very spicy so any subtle changes might have been hard to notice.

It's amazing what a bit of sawing, splitting, filling, etc can do for a cake! I thought about trying to salvage this one but it appeared completely defeated.

Oct 30, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Help me decipher my gingerbread disaster!

I'm a frequent baker and, with one exception involving merengue and a "thin stream of caramelized sugar," I've rarely experienced a true disaster despite my tendency to play around with recipes. But over the weekend I decided to whip up a batch of tried and true gingerbread (I posted a paraphrase of the recipe, from the excellent Sweet Stuff by Karen Barker, on this board last year)since I had some fresh ginger from the farmers' market.

I've made this many times, and I used the same pan as always. Same oven. I don't even mess with this recipe the way I usually do. But this time the failure was spectacular--it rose WAY too much, overflowed the sides of the pan, dripped all over the oven, then collapsed in an unsightly brown heap. I was to bring this as dessert to a friend's dinner party; I had to stop at a Whole Foods on the way over instead as all of the decent bakeries were closed and I was disgracefully low or out of necessary raw materials to do another take. So embarrassing! I won't even get into what happened after my husband decided to run the self-cleaning cycle on the oven without waiting for me to scrape off the coating of gingerbread batter...

The only mistake I think I made was in reversing the additions of the last two ingredients--orange juice and a mixture of warm coffee and 2 t baking soda. I got distracted and added the OJ first, then the fizzy coffee mixture. Could the extra acidity of the batter when I added the baking soda have caused the extreme rising and subsequent collapse? Any insight from food science experts/home eccies would be gratefully received.

Oct 30, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking

Sitram cookware

I have a couple of skillets and a saucier of theirs I got from Bridge in NY. I really like them and use them all the time (esp the skillets).

Oct 24, 2006
LindaMc in Cookware

Dinner for one in Midtown (49th St @ 8th Ave)?

DC Chowhound will be heading up to NY tomorrow afternoon for a conference Thursday and Friday. I'll probably be on my own for dinner tomorrow night. I'm staying on West 49th Street, I think near 8th. Is there anything of note to check out in the vicinity, where a solo diner with a good book could enjoy a good meal?

I visit the city fairly regularly but usually stay on the east side. I like pretty much everything; cost isn't really an issue but someplace casual and comfortable would be best if anyone has any ideas.

Thanks in advance!

Oct 24, 2006
LindaMc in Manhattan

Bebo in Crystal City--first impressions

Had dinner at Roberto Donna's new place in Crystal City, Bebo, on Saturday night. It just opened last Thursday.

I had understood that it was going to be more casual and down-home than Galileo, but the space was pretty large and more formal-looking than I had expected. Prices, though, were very reasonable--under $20, often well under, for most main courses, salads in the single digits, side dishes for $3.

There were a few glitches in the service, not unexpected for the third night, but the food was superb. I had the Ceasar salad and fried rabbit with artichokes and scallions. Both were absolutely delicious--great anchovy flavor and parmesan with the salad, and the rabbit and veg were perfectly fried and not at all greasy. I was skeptical of the orange mayonnaise that came on the side, but it was terrific. A side order of polenta was excellent. My husband had a salad of roasted tomatoes and mozzarella, which was also delicious, and pasta with a ragu made of pork ribs, great hearty long-cooked flavor. There are good wines by the glass, also very reasonable. I had a very tasty Barbera for $7/glass; the waiter had recommended it and it was perfect for my meal.

For dessert we shared a hazelnut cake with hazelnut ice cream and caramel sauce. The presentation was not great as the cake was very crumbly, almost like a shortbread, but we didn't care because it tasted so good.

Chowhounds in the vicinity should definitely check this out.

Oct 23, 2006
LindaMc in Washington DC & Baltimore

Turkey call.

Grubn, all I can say is, relax and enjoy! Thanksgiving was the first proper meal I ever cooked. I have cooked over ten since then, and never have I had much difficulty. This is not because I am such a great cook, I just think it's a pretty easy meal to throw together, even for the uninitiated, once you get going.

I hate to risk jinxing my run, but I have never made a dry turkey. I have always used either fresh from Whole Foods or similar purveyor, or frozen heritage bird from a Virginia farmer. I have tried all sorts of tricks for turkeys--I have draped the bird in cheesecloth soaked in melted butter and white wine a la Martha Stewart, I have roasted stuffed and unstuffed, I have brined, not brined, and dry brined. I grew up on dry turkeys in a household devoid of people who liked to cook, so I know it's theoretically possible. But I think if you put any effort in you won't go wrong.

I would definitely brine, it really brings out the flavor. Last year I tried a modified Zuni style dry-brine--I liberally sprinked the bird (a Red Bourbon) with kosher salt and pepper on Wednesday morning. I then did nothing else and roasted it, unstuffed, in a 425 oven for two hours. That's it. This was the best turkey any of us at our dinner had ever had. I think in large part the bird takes the credit--such depth of flavor, slightly "gamy" in a good way but even the three-year-old at the table had multiple servings.

But I was completely won over by the method as well. It was the most relaxed Thanksgiving day I had ever experienced, and the turkey could not have been better. I had previously always stuffed, but no more. I cooked the stuffing (my husband's favorite food, although last year he said the turkey was even better) in a huge Le Creuset Dutch oven, and it was just about as good.

Have a great time, and report back!

Oct 04, 2006
LindaMc in Home Cooking