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benbenberi's Profile

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Bottle of Wine for Braising an Italian Beef Dish?

Clearly you're using a better grade of Carlo Rossi than I was!

Feb 18, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking

Bottle of Wine for Braising an Italian Beef Dish?

Agreed! It's a waste to use an expensive top-flight wine in cooking, but whatever you use needs to be of drinkable quality. If you put crap into your stew, your stew will taste like crap.

As a very young person I made that mistake with a jug of Carlo Rossi and a large pot of stew. Inedible stew, as it turned out, thanks to the undrinkable plonk I had cooked it with. DON'T DO THAT!

There are plenty of inexpensive yet inoffensive wines available. The Cotes du Rhone people have recommended are very good for the purpose, and won't put you out of pocket or out of sorts.

Feb 17, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking

What is the best thickener for GF onion soup?

Omit the flour thickener entirely. Onion soup traditionally doesn't include it, and it's not necessary to the dish.

For a richer mouth-feel, use a beef stock made with lots of bones & gelatinous parts - that's all the thickener an onion soup requires. If you're using stock or broth that doesn't have enough body, roast & toss some soup bones in to soupify with the onions, just remember to take them out before serving.

Alternatively you can puree some of the caramelized onions & add it into the soup. Or cut up some of the onions small enough in the first place that they melt into the soup as it cooks.

Feb 17, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking
3

Cozy Dine-at-the-bar Sunday Foodie Lunch in New Haven area?

It's a little strip mall in Mount Carmel, just north of the highway. (But the restaurant space has a very cozy bar vibe.)

Feb 16, 2014
benbenberi in Southern New England

Cozy Dine-at-the-bar Sunday Foodie Lunch in New Haven area?

If you're willing to drive out to Hamden, Mikro Beer Bar at 3000 Whitney Ave may be what you're looking for.

http://mikrobeerbar.com/

Feb 13, 2014
benbenberi in Southern New England

What's your favorite topping for Pizza…other than Pepperoni?

My pie of choice at the local places I favor is a white pie with ricotta and eggplant. Failing that, ricotta & spinach or broccoli. When I'm at Pepe's in New Haven, white clam, no question.

Red, I'm pepperoni all the way. Or extra cheese if they use a decent quality mozz. But I've learned to appreciate the Canadian bacon + pineapple pie, which I used to despise. It's got that sweet/salt thing going.

Jan 02, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

which is the best for flavoring pancakes? butter or butter spray?

Butter spray is nasty. Don't use it when you're making anything you want to taste good! Always choose real butter over sprayed crap. Always.

Dec 31, 2013
benbenberi in General Topics

I can't believe the grocery store didn't have it!

Of course not, that's what chicken processing plants are for. The stores get just the parts they expect to sell. Most supermarkets these days don't have much call for backs so they don't stock them -- the exception apparently being situations like at my local Shop Rite, where the chicken company (Tyson) includes some backs as part of their order when they're going to have a big sale. Or stores that serve a customer base that demands backs more regularly. (Again, like my Shop Rite usually has chicken feet - they're wanted.)

Dec 31, 2013
benbenberi in General Topics

Trader Joe's Going Downhill?

That explains a lot!! :(

Dec 31, 2013
benbenberi in Chains

Thickening Coq au Vin without dairy or gluten

+1 for potato starch and/or veggie puree.

For extra body in your sauce without added thickeners, you can (1) use exclusively thighs & legs in the coq au vin & cook it long enough for the gelatin in the bones to dissolve into the sauce, and (2) cook it with baking potatoes added early, rather than boiling potatoes added late - that will get your potato starch into the dish, plus you have potatoes!

Dec 30, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking

I can't believe the grocery store didn't have it!

I never see chicken backs in Stop & Shop. Never. But they occasionally have them at Shop Rite. I asked the meat guy there about it once (when I was looking for backs & they didn't have any) -- apparently when they have a special sale of Tyson's chicken parts, packages of backs get included in the shipment. No Tyson's sale, no backs.

(But this is also a store that routinely carries packages of "chicken paws," aka feet, and other non-standard-in-supermarket animal parts like pig ears & pig tails. I think their customer base is more "ethnic" than Stop & Shop's.)

Dec 28, 2013
benbenberi in General Topics
1

Easy, Festive, French-Inspired Dessert to Bring to New Year's Eve Potluck?

Cream puffs. They're dead simple & everybody loves them.

Butter cookies or shortbreads - the French call them "sable" for their sandy texture. Or meringue cookies, plain or flavored/colored as you like.

Fruit tarts -- besides the ones mentioned above, there's also the kind with a sweet crust, pastry cream/custard and fresh fruit - very pretty with berries.

Or you can go really French with a selection of good cheese & a baguette, & maybe some grapes.

Dec 25, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking

A CT BBQ comparison (weigh in with your favorites!)

Yeah, The Place is basically a season-long open-air clambake -- what you see from the road isn't a smoker, but a great big raised fire pit for grilling seafood, corn, chicken, etc. It can be very good & a lot of fun, but it's definitely NOT BBQ.

Dec 13, 2013
benbenberi in Southern New England
1

I'm gonna ask again. WHole chicken,cut up..recipe?

With a cut-up whole chicken you can basically make any recipe that calls for chicken parts. This time of year, I'm partial to braised/stewed chicken dishes -- coq au vin is good, and so's a simple chicken fricassee, which can be varied infinitely depending on what you like/have on hand besides chicken.

Basic method: dredge your chicken in seasoned flour and brown in oil in a heavy pot (I use a Le Creuset dutch oven, but anything big and solid with a cover will do). As your chicken pieces brown, put them aside on a plate. When they're all browned, sweat a diced onion in the pot - add some more oil if needed. When the onion has softened but not browned, add other aromatics & root veggies to the pot if you want, deglaze it with the cooking liquid of your choice (water is fine, broth/stock add more flavor, wine/beer/cider/juice add different flavors), add herbs/spices/seasonings of your choice, put the chicken back, bring to a boil, then cover & simmer for an hour or 2 till the chicken falls off the bone, the root veggies (if any) are soft, and your mouth is watering like Pavlov's dog. You can also cook it in a low oven instead of on the stovetop, or put it into a slow cooker for a while (6-10 hrs).

For a simple coq au vin, you'd use bacon fat instead of oil, cook with red wine & thyme, and add button mushrooms toward the end. For a plain but satisfying fricassee, I use chicken broth, carrots, & a little rosemary & garlic. For a slightly sprightlier version, I add some white wine & Dijon. An unusual but really good version omits the onion and veggies, but adds orange juice & white wine, orange zest, and dried savory. For an autumn braise I use fresh cider & apples sliced up. For something completely different, Coca Cola (*not* diet Coke, *not* a different brand, but real Coke pref. made with real sugar) and a couple of whole lemons sliced up -- the lemons soften & turn mild as they cook, & cooking also brings out the complexity of the flavors in real Coke.

Dec 11, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking
3

DO NOT DISCARD THE TURKEY CARCASS(ES)

the flavor... I'm not a really a fan of turkey period, so concentrated turkeyness in liquid form holds no appeal.

Dec 01, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking

DO NOT DISCARD THE TURKEY CARCASS(ES)

I don't like turkey broth, turkey stock or turkey soup, so after my turkey carcass has been picked clean I throw it out with a clear conscience.

Nov 29, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking
1

baked russet potatoes: what is the function of oil and foil?

Oiling the skin makes it crisp as it bakes. If you like crispy baked potato skin, that's how it happens. If you don't, don't bother.

Wrapping the potato in foil means that it mostly steams, rather than bakes. (Sort of like what happens when you cook the potato in the microwave.) Definitely no chance of crispy skin that way. If you're cooking your potato in a fire, rather than an oven, foil protects it from getting ashes & char on it, otherwise it's not necessary, and not necessarily desirable.

Nov 29, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking
1

Choucroute Garnie

Definitely, do NOT use italian sausage in it. Totally the wrong flavor profile. Something in the kielbasa, knockwurst, frankfurter family is more what you want.I like to make my choucroute with a smoked hock or smoked pork chop(s), and some big chunks of slab bacon or pork belly for richness.

It's also very important that you (a) use decent sauerkraut -- not from a can, and (b) rinse and drain it thoroughly before cooking. Otherwise the dish turns out seriously over-salty and over-sour. Use a light white wine, nothing too heavy or assertive. (Think Riesling, not chardonnay.)

My favorite recipe is the "Choucroute Garnie Chez Jenny" that Patricia Wells published -- it looks like the version at food.com is pretty much the same:
http://www.food.com/recipe/chez-jenny...

Nov 09, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking

Thanksgivnukkah ideas?

The essence of Hanukkah is FRIED foods - so if you're not feeling the latke love, how about jelly doughnuts or apple fritters for dessert? Or little fried pies, if you're in the South,

Nov 07, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking

New Haven and Mystic Restaurant Weeks

Thanks for the heads-up and links!

Nov 03, 2013
benbenberi in Southern New England

Any places along the Merritt Pkwy (CT)

The Hamden Town House, right off the Merritt exit 61/62, is a good diner. Excellent breakfast all day & night, good homemade soup-of-the-day, pretty decent basic sandwiches, burgers, daily specials, etc. It's plain food, nothing fancy, but I generally enjoy what I eat there. (The building used to be a HoJo, so it doesn't look very "diner.")

I also agree with Clams047, the Glenwood Drive-In has great hot dogs & fried seafood. They also share a roof with Kelly's Kone Konnection, really good homemade ice cream.

There's another diner right off exit 60 (the Acropolis) - a little plainer on the plain-food scale, but I like their moussaka better than the Town House. Also at exit 60: There's a bunch of fast food & fast casual chains on Dixwell Ave north of the Merritt overpass there, and Ibiza Tapas (very good tapas) a block or two further south.

Sep 07, 2013
benbenberi in Southern New England
1

Lunch in Greenwich

I was in Greenwich last week and had a couple of very nice light meals at Meli Melo. Crepes, sandwiches, smoothies, etc.

Aug 31, 2013
benbenberi in Southern New England

How long can chicken liver pate will last in the fridge? And can it be frozen?

I think 7-8 days is about the outer limit for chicken liver pate in the fridge. I recommend you freeze the rest in single-serve portions - it will keep a lot longer and not lose any quality when you defrost it.

Aug 11, 2013
benbenberi in General Topics

Let's talk about Penzey's:

I use mostly their plain spices. but I also like some of their blends a lot. Sweet curry powder is like the classic old-fashioned supermarket curry powder I grew up with, but fresher. I also like their Chili 9000 a lot, & the Cajun Spice blend is great on baked chicken.

A blend I wish they would come out with is a Ras al hanout -- I bought a packet of that from a street fair vendor in NY that I've nearly used up, & I'd love a reliable supply from Penzey's.

May 06, 2013
benbenberi in Chains
1

Let's talk about Penzey's:

I bought a jar on a whim, but I haven't used it much & probably won't get it again. It's basically thin raspberry jam. Tasty, but I don't have too much call for it in cooking.

May 06, 2013
benbenberi in Chains

Food near Citi Field

Thanks everybody! We ended up going to Imperial Palace after the show - there was a lot of traffic en route but plenty of parking, and the restaurant was great! I wish it wasn't so far away -- I'd love to go back with a big party of adventurous eaters to sample more of the dishes that never show up on suburban menus!

Apr 14, 2013
benbenberi in Outer Boroughs

Food near Citi Field

Thanks - when I tried to search here, all I got were posts about food IN the stadium, which is where I'm not going to be... :)

Are there any places in that list that you can recommend as being better, or easier access, than the others?

Apr 09, 2013
benbenberi in Outer Boroughs

Food near Citi Field

I'm driving down from Connecticut on Saturday for the Cirque du Soleil, which has apparently set up its tents this year in a parking lot at Citi Field. The show lets out around 6:00, so an early supper might be nice before driving home again. The thing is, I've never been to that part of Queens before and don't know the area or the food options.

So, can anyone here recommend to me places that are (1) good, (2) inexpensive, (3) easily found by a stranger in a car, and (4) have (or are close to) decent parking?

Apr 09, 2013
benbenberi in Outer Boroughs

Oven roasted potatoes "from memory"

Not quite sure what you're asking - it sounds like you've described the method you want pretty well.

To fill in some of the gaps? -- I would at most coat the potatoes very lightly with oil, otherwise you're oven-frying, not roasting.

Spices -- my preference would be salt, pepper, maybe some garlic powder and/or paprika. Your taste may differ - go ahead and experiment!

Roast at 350-400 degrees, as long as needed to cook the potatoes as much as you want. (Probably 30-60 min.) If you haven't used too much oil, spattering or smoking shouldn't be a problem, but if you want to cover the pan the way mom used to, that's ok (though they may not get as crispy under a lid - take it off for the last few minutes at least).

If my suggestions are vague, it's because I consider something like this a general method or approach, not a specific recipe. Lots of variability is built in, so you can frex. cook the potatoes this way at the same time you're cooking something else in the same oven that may have more particular requirements.

Mar 26, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking

Turkey Marsala - "Poultry" Marsala Novice

Yes - turkey cutlets are a good alternative for any dish that calls for veal or chicken cutlets/scaloppine. Turkey marsala is just fine! So is turkey schnitzel...

Mar 16, 2013
benbenberi in Home Cooking