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MarkC's Profile

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Not So Pioneer Woman?

I think the whole point of Pioneer Woman is that she's not for the chowhound set, and certainly not for professional chefs. Her demographic is clear - middle America - and that's why she's successful. She found a market that hadn't been addressed. Anyone who judges her by a different standard is simply showing that he/she kinda sorta doesn't get stuff.

I found her blog years ago, long before she was famous, and her success is not a surprise. Her approach is warm, funny, and self-deprecating. I never tuned in for the recipes, but just because she'd make me laugh, and I was curious what kind of food they ate on ranches in Oklahoma. Inevitably, the intimate quality of her early blogging has been lost somewhat, now that she's a celebrity.

Question for short order cooks

I don't think anyone flips them anymore. Most people don't know the difference, and flipping them requires a skillet when it's easier to use the griddle, and it's easy to break a yolk and ruin it.

Nov 27, 2014
MarkC in General Topics

Question for short order cooks

Whenever I order over easy eggs in a coffee shop, they are never flipped. Basically, they are sunny side up - probably cooked on the griddle with a lid placed over them so the whites will cook over the yolks. Can anyone confirm my theory?

Nov 26, 2014
MarkC in General Topics

I hate Cook’s Illustrated: The soul-crushing wonkiness of the world’s worst cookbook

I love Cooks illustrated.

Best pecan pie in LA?

Cake Monkey has the best pies hands down. I've only had the apple and cherry, but the pecan is bound to be good. They're a catering company, but you can pick their pies up at the bakery in North Hollywood. Pricey but worth it.

Nov 21, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Any Bulgarian restaurants in LA?

I was intrigued by your question, because there are Bulgarian restaurants in Tel Aviv, where I used to live.

Only Balkan restaurant I could find in LA is a Bosnian place, called Aroma Café:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/aroma-cafe-lo...

Probably not that equivalent. The places I used to go had a lot of soups and stews. And ikra - salty mullet roe paste, what the Greeks call taramasalata.

Nov 08, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Valencia: In Vain or Victorious

That's a hard question to answer. Nice upscale surroundings, good margaritas, good food. What's it worth to ya?

There's another place I used to go to when taking my wife for her driver's test at the local DMV (I was able to enjoy this place several times). It's called El Pueblo, and they specialize in chilaquiles. I love chilaquilas, and this is the only place I've encountered that specializes in them, and has probably a dozen different renditions.

El Pueblo
24400 Walnut St
Ste A
Newhall, CA 91321

Oct 26, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Valencia: In Vain or Victorious

Sabor Cucina is an excellent Mexican restaurant by any standards.

Sabor Cucina
23953 Newhall Ranch Rd,
Santa Clarita (Valencia)

A little further afield, but in the same neck of the woods, there's Le Chene, upscale French in a garden setting. I've never been, so can't comment on the food. Definitely an outlier for that area.

Le Chene
12625 Sierra Hwy,
Santa Clarita, CA 91390

Oct 26, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Bludso's For White People™- first visit.

One reason that you find great BBQ in small town America and maybe not so much in big cities like LA is that BBQ really doesn't lend itself to big city restaurant service. The long slow-cooking makes the timing almost impossible to get right for a busy restaurant, and the temptation to cheat must be ever present. The famous BBQ pits must be assembly-line operations built around their particular cooking requirements, and not the service expectations of their customers. Likewise, they probably focus on their own regional specialties, and don't offer the full gamut like they do at places like Bludso's.

My favorite place in LA is the unsung Roger's Rib Shack in Northridge, where I used to live. It has better known places like Smoke City and Bludso's La Brea beat every way to sunday, probably because they have similar advantages to small town places. More than once, Roger told me the brisket wasn't ready, or they were out. Usually I'm miffed when a restaurant doesn't have something I want, but with BBQ I can understand it, and I'm glad they don't cut corners to make something available.

Oct 09, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Need beautiful unique lunch spot for special BD

Really not many places I would consider beautiful in Los Angeles. LA has a lot of things going for it, but natural beauty isn't one of them. Of course, there's the Saddleback Inn. That's a no brainer for someone in the valley. Otherwise, I would recommend the restaurant at the Getty Museum. Or the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Oct 09, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Unusual and interesting ethnic markets in the Greater Los Angeles Area?

Oct 04, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

butter and oil

Not true. Butter burns very quickly, and some egg preparations require reasonably high heat to cook well. With fried eggs or over easy eggs you want the whites to set up fairly quickly and brown a little before the yolks harden. You wouldn't cook these eggs over a low flame.

Oct 02, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

butter and oil

The old wisdom was that you cooked eggs in a mixture of oil and butter, because that way the butter wouldn't burn. I remember first reading this advice in "The Frugal Gourmet". However, Alton Brown poo poos this idea, and says that butter will burn just as quickly whether or not it's combined with oil. Being Alton Brown, of course, he proves it experimentally.

The thing is, I've always found I've gotten a better result mixing butter and oil. First, you'll probably end up using more cooking fat than if you used just one, so that may be part of it. I also think that the different viscosity and mechanical properties of the two fats may complement one another. Oil alone won't coat the pan evenly (at least not a no-stick), but is runnier than butter, so it's easier to move the eggs around the pan.

Or maybe it's just psychological. Anyone have any insights?

Oct 02, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

Relatively new baker - looking for some inspiration

Any professional baking course is going to have you weigh your ingredients in grams on a digital scale. It's just a better way of baking, and it's also faster and cleaner. Of course, you don't have to. You can make do just fine following recipes with cups and measuring spoons. But it's like learning to improvise and understand the music as opposed to just playing from sheet music. Why not develop good habits from the beginning?

I'm a big fan of Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. You should definitely invest in a copy, and then decide for yourself.

Sep 23, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

Recipe for best pancakes ever (Cafe Luluc)?

Your plan sounds spot on. It would be a lot more ergonomic for a restaurant kitchen to start it in the skillet for the shape and texture, and then flip it onto the flattop. I've never seen a texture like that on a pancake, but that's probably because I've never fried one in butter in a skillet before. I would definitely think cornstarch to crisp up the sides.

Sep 21, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

Parking in Thai town

Can someone give me the low down on parking in Thai Town? I want to go to Lacha Somtum, but the last time I tried, there was no parking available anywhere, and we ended up at the highly mediocre Sapp's Coffee Shop instead (not to start a debate on that issue), just because that's where we found parking. Can someone advise?

Sep 20, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Recipe for best pancakes ever (Cafe Luluc)?

Hi

I'm always intrigued by these Sherlock Holmes in the kitchen questions, and hope you don't mind if I join in.

First, I've never heard of a cast iron skillet with a domed bottom, and such a utensil seems highly improbable, certainly for making pancakes in a restaurant. For sure the domed and crispy top comes from finishing in a hot oven.

Cakes dome for two reasons. The sides set early because of contact with the metal pan while the center continues rising, and also more structure (ie gluten) in the flour. I bet you'll get the dome just by using the oven method. Probably the pancake is started in a skillet on the flame, and then instead of flipping it, they put it in a hot oven. It's also possible they preheat the skillet in the oven, and do the entire thing in the oven. If so, don't butter the skillet, as the heat will cause it to burn. Use oil instead.

For the crispy top, try putting some cornstarch in the flour, and also use skimmed milk. Finally, don't put too much milk in the batter. Just enough so that it's just pourable, like pudding.

Have fun experimenting!

Sep 20, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

In town this week for convention

Okay, Chicago hounds, I'm able to focus my search now. I need a good place (same - steak house, Italian, etc) in easy walking distance of the Trump Hotel. Much appreciated.

Sep 08, 2014
MarkC in Chicago Area

Mac 'n cheese help

Think outside the box. What may be lacking is not cheese flavor, but umami flavor. Anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, Thai fish sauce even? Ale might be a good idea - thinking rarebit.

Sep 06, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

In town this week for convention

Thanks again for advice. There's probably enough steaks and pasta there to keep the conventioneers well fed. We have a car because one of us is driving from Cincinnati. Otherwise, it sounds like a big liability, and will probably just sit in the hotel parking garage all week. I'm from Los Angeles, where everybody drives everywhere!

Sep 05, 2014
MarkC in Chicago Area

In town this week for convention

Thanks! Turns out we're staying at the Hampton Majestic, but with a car all of those place sound accessible.

Sep 04, 2014
MarkC in Chicago Area

In town this week for convention

I don't know where everyone is staying, but you can assume it's downtown. You're right, I don't know Chicago, and my only point of reference is the convention center. How is the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant?

Sep 04, 2014
MarkC in Chicago Area

In town this week for convention

Everyone is staying within easy driving distance of McCormick Place, so you can use that as your reference point, although as I said we will have a car.

We need restaurants to wine and dine clients, so upscale is fine, although not the most expensive restaurants. No Grant Achatz, please.

Sep 04, 2014
MarkC in Chicago Area

In town this week for convention

I will be in Chicago next week for a convention, and need some recommendations for dinner. We're talking a conservative crowd, so I would say steak houses, BBQ, Italian. The convention is at McCormick Place, but we will have a car, and can travel.

Thanks!

Sep 03, 2014
MarkC in Chicago Area

Pool of water under omelette?

I've heard that salting the eggs can cause weeping. In his youtube video, Gordon Ramsey recommends not salting the egg mixture prior to cooking, and only adding right at the very end. So you might try not salting the egg mixture, and only adding salt to the finished omelet just before eating.

Aug 10, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

Best book for improving cooking skills?

For me, Alton Brown is the best when it comes to teaching the science behind cooking, and he is a rich source of original cooking tips. I'm Only Here for the Food is great, but I like his Good Eats volumes even more. He's funny too, which doesn't hurt.

Michael Ruhlmann comes from the same school of thought, and of course the Cooks Illustrated people. Definitely subscribe to their website, and get their Science of Cooking book. Each recipe has a section called "Why this recipe works", which pretty much answers all your questions.

Jacques Pepin is an old master, but I'm not sure he is exactly what you're looking for, and isn't really one for quick tips.

For wonderful food writing, get Laurie Colwin's "Home Cooking" and "More Home Cooking". She is also funny and warm, with wonderful stories to go with the recipes.

I never read Gordon Ramsay, but a youtube video of his gave me the best way for cooking scrambled eggs of anybody else, and that's the only way I do it now. I should try one of his books.

Jul 30, 2014
MarkC in Home Cooking

Where To Buy Quark?? Kwark?

It runs along Ivar street between Hollywood and Sunset Blvds, but I bet you can find one closer to where you live. If you google farmer's market in los angeles or orange county, you'll find the website. Usually the sellers travel among different farmer's markets, which are held on different days of the week.

Jul 27, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Where To Buy Quark?? Kwark?

Just happens I saw quark today by an artisan cheese seller at the Hollywood Farmer's market. I'm afraid I don't remember the name, but your local farmer's market might be a good place to start.

A final note on the Templars. Until fairly recently, there were only two kinds of cheese widely available in Israel - the aforementioned white cheese, and a second called "yellow cheese" which is derived from German muenster. So the templars had a pronounced impact on the Israeli cheese-making industry.

Jul 27, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Where To Buy Quark?? Kwark?

You might try Israeli grocers. Quark is a popular product in Israel, where it is called "white cheese". Interestingly, it was introduced to what was then Turkish Palestine by Christian fundamentalist Germans who called themselves Templars. You can still see their beautiful old stone houses in Jerusalem and other parts of the country. They were expelled by the British during WWII, but their quark-making tradition lived on.

By the way, it is not at all like labneh, which is very tart. White cheese has a texture like sour cream and a mildly sweet flavor. In Israel it is sold in individual plastic containers like yogurt.

Don't know if there are any Israeli grocers in Downey, but they have in the SFV and possibly elsewhere.

Jul 27, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area

Aroma Cafe Hollywood - Report

Thanks! We started out liking Cheebo but the last couple of times it wasn't good and now we don't go anymore. Like the Pikey but find it overpriced. Chibiscus is kind of a kick, particularly if you've got kids who are into Asian pop culture.

Jul 23, 2014
MarkC in Los Angeles Area